PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Bryce Harper is doing what he can to help the Philadelphia Phillies end a string of seven straight losing seasons. Harper hit one of three Philadelphia home runs, and Zach Eflin pitched 7 2/3 strong innings as the Phillies beat the Miami Marlins 9-3 on Saturday night.
Cesar Hernandez and Maikel Franco also went deep for Philadelphia, which evened its season record against the Marlins at 9-9. The Phillies (81-80) will need to complete a three-game series sweep in Sunday’s season finale to clinch their first winning record since going 102-60 in 2011.
“Gotta do it,” Harper said. “Gotta go out there and win tomorrow. That’s huge for us. It’s not where we want to be, but winning seasons are good.”
*ball sees Bryce*
— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) September 29, 2019
Philadelphia tied a club record for homers in a month with 44.
Eflin (10-13) gave up three runs on six hits with six strikeouts and two walks.
“Just being aggressive, not backing down and trusting every pitch,” Eflin said of his keys. “I felt comfortable, was attacking guys and keeping them off balance.”
Neil Walker homered for Miami.
“We just didn’t get anything going,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said.
Harper was drilled in the back by reliever Jose Quijada in the fourth inning. He bent over at the waist, clearly in pain, while being attended to by Philadelphia’s trainer. He stayed in the game and gingerly jogged to first.
Harper’s payback came in his next at-bat in the sixth, when he launched a 92 mph fastball from Wei-Yin Chen over the wall in left for his 35th homer. The two-out, three-run shot gave Philadelphia a 9-1 lead.
“Just trying to go up there and have good at-bats,” said Harper, who has 114 RBIs. “I want to go up there and do damage the best I can.”
All of the runs were unearned after a costly two-base error by center fielder Jon Berti on a drive to the warning track by Eflin.
Eflin got the first two outs in the eighth before Miguel Rojas singled. Walker then ended the right-hander’s night with a two-run drive to right.
The Phillies went in front early on Hernandez’s leadoff homer in the first off Caleb Smith (10-11). Franco’s two-run shot in the second made it 3-0, and Philadelphia tacked on three more runs in the sixth on a two-run single by Adam Haseley and an RBI double by Deivy Grullon. The double was Grullon’s first career hit.
Smith allowed six runs, five earned, on five hits in three innings.
“He didn’t seem to be real sharp with anything tonight,” Mattingly said.
MANAGER FOR A DAY
Rojas will take over the managerial duties from Marlins skipper Don Mattingly on Sunday. Mattingly will be in attendance, but Rojas will make the lineup and dictate the moves.
Harper stole second in the fourth, giving Philadelphia 23 consecutive stolen bases without getting thrown out since Aug. 27. Harper is 8 for 8 over that stretch.
Marlins: RHP Tayron Guerrero departed with a tight left groin after walking pitcher Nick Pivetta to lead off the eighth. Guerrero missed nearly a month, returning Sept. 1, due to a torn finger nail on the middle finger of his right hand.
Phillies: INF/OF Scott Kingery was out of the lineup on Saturday and won’t play in Sunday’s season finale after experiencing blurred vision in Friday night’s game. Kingery will be re-evaluated next week. . SS Jean Segura (sprained right ankle) also didn’t play on Saturday and likely is done for the season.
RHP Sanday Alcantara (5-14, 3.95) will start for the Marlins in Sunday’s finale. RHP Aaron Nola originally was scheduled to pitch for Philadelphia, but the Phillies instead will use a bullpen-by-committee. The Phillies haven’t announced their opener.
(©Copyright 2019 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)