Eflin fans 9, Phillies down Brewers 4-3 to snap 4-game skid
By MIKE CRANSTON
PHILADELPHIA — It was raining, the radar was all green, minus the small blobs of yellow and red, and Milwaukee Brewers manager Craig Counsell decided to gamble.
But lifting Brandon Woodruff for a pinch-hitter in the fifth inning backfired. The big inning never came, the heavy rain didn’t either, and the Philadelphia Phillies did just enough against the bullpen to win 4-3 Sunday.
Zach Eflin tied his career high with nine strikeouts over six innings and the Phillies snapped a four-game losing streak.
“Look, he was throwing the ball really good,” Counsell said of Woodruff, who had allowed one unearned run and one hit in four innings in his return from the minors. “It’s a big scoring opportunity, there’s a threat of rain, so we made a call to try to score runs that inning. It didn’t work. I would do it again.”
Rhys Hoskins drove in two runs, including a go-ahead sacrifice fly in a three-run fifth off reliever Dan Jennings (3-2) in the Phillies’ fourth win in 14 games.
“It was huge. We needed a (W) today,” said J.P. Crawford, who had two of the Phillies’ four hits.
Ryan Braun saved a run with a diving catch, doubled to spark a two-run fifth, and had an RBI single in the eighth for the Brewers, who had won two straight.
Eflin (3-2) had his second strong start after two subpar outings, allowing two runs and three hits with one walk.
“We played a good game today,” Eflin said. “I think that’s the biggest thing, being able to stop a team that’s picking on you a little bit.”
The Brewers were also done in by 14 strikeouts, shoddy defense and wasted chances.
Milwaukee left the tying run at third in each of the final two innings. Seranthony Dominguez got Jonathan Villar to ground out to the mound to end the eighth, and Christian Yelich grounded to second for the final out to give Tommy Hunter his first save.
A downpour in the bottom of the first tapered to a drizzle, but with 1 to 2 inches of rain in the forecast, it appeared both managers were preparing for a shortened game.
Gabe Kapler moved the Phillies’ infield in with a runner on third while up 1-0 in the fifth. Counsell then pinch-hit for Woodruff with the bases loaded and one out in the fifth.
Hernan Perez struck out before the Brewers took a 2-1 lead with the help of two hit batters, a bases-loaded walk to Yelich and Lorenzo Cain’s comebacker that glanced off Eflin.
Jennings then immediately got into trouble.
Third baseman Travis Shaw’s error led to two unearned runs. Woodruff’s own bad pickoff throw led to the Phillies’ first run in the first.
“We gave them their runs,” Counsell said.
The rain picked up in the seventh, but there were no stoppages and the Brewers’ offense was stymied after outscoring Philadelphia 24-7 in the first two games of the series.
Brewers: Eric Thames (left thumb) started in left field for Triple-A Colorado Springs in what was expected to be his final rehab game. He could be activated Monday.
Phillies: Slumping 3B Maikel Franco, who also has been ill, according to Kapler, was out of the lineup for a fourth straight game.
BRAUN’S BIG WEEKEND
Braun robbed Nick Williams by bellying out to grab his liner to left with a runner on second. Braun went 6 for 12 with a double, triple, two home runs and seven RBIs in the series. He’s hitting .406 in his career at Citizens Bank Park.
TRIBUTE MINUS DYKSTRA
Many members of the 1993 Phillies were honored for the 25th anniversary of their World Series title. But there was a notable absence.
The team’s star, Lenny Dykstra, was uninvited after his most recent arrest last month on charges of making terroristic threats to an Uber driver, and drug possession. Dykstra previously served prison time.
Paul Fletcher, who pitched 1/3 inning for the 1993 Phillies, proposed to his girlfriend after the fourth inning. She said yes.
HERO SENT DOWN
Ji-Man Choi, who hit the go-ahead, pinch-hit grand slam Saturday, was optioned to Triple-A to make room for Woodruff.
Brewers: First place in the NL Central is on the line as the Cubs visit Milwaukee for a three-game series. RHP Junior Guerra (3-4, 2.83 ERA) starts Monday night against Chicago LHP Jose Quintana (6-4, 4.20).
Phillies: Ace RHP Aaron Nola (7-2, 2.35) starts Tuesday night against Colorado RHP Jon Gray (6-6, 5.66) to start a three-game home series.