Phillies winning streak at 9 as Zack Wheeler and the bullpen shine

Phillies winning streak at 9 as Zack Wheeler and the bullpen shine
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The Phillies had two types of momentum on their side Saturday.

Numero uno, of course, was the eight-game winning streak they rode midway through a three-game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Numero dos was the man on the pitcher’s mound.

Zack Wheeler continued his recent streak of dominance by leading the habaneros-hot Phillies to a 4-0 win over the Diamondbacks.

The win was the Phillies’ ninth straight, tying their longest since the 2011 team won nine in a row en route to a club-record 102 wins. (The team record for most consecutive wins is 13, most recently achieved in 1991.)

Saturday’s victory took manager Rob Thomson to 8-0 since replacing Joe Girardi when the team was 22-29. At 30-29, the Phils are over .500 for the first time since the season was five days old and they were 3-2.

What an incredible run it’s been with lots of wins, lots of power – the Phils hit 22 home runs during the nine-game winning streak – and lots of great tee shots.

“It’s going pretty well,” Thomson said. “We just have to keep going.

“We got to .500. Now aim for five over. Once we get there, shoot for 10 over.”

Wheeler got an early run on a first-inning double from Rhys Hoskins and an RBI single from Nick Castellanos.

An inning later, rookie Bryson Stott hit his fourth homer in the last eight games, a two-run right shot, to give the Phils a 3-0 lead.

Wheeler and the bullpen got him on his feet.

“He got ahead, his stuff was good, it was Zack,” Thomson said of Wheeler, who entered the game with a 1.61 ERA in his previous seven starts.

The right-hander continued his dominance with six shutout innings. He allowed two hits, walked no one, struck out eight and busted a bunch of bats. All in all, just another good day for Wheeler, who didn’t accompany the team to Milwaukee for the week as he and his wife, Dominique, welcomed a daughter, Bambi.

Back in Philadelphia with his family, Wheeler said he was captivated by his teammates and their winning streak.

“I was just hoping it would come back to me and I could carry on,” he said. “We were able to do that.”

In his last eight starts, Wheeler has allowed just eight earned runs in 51⅔ innings for a 1.39 ERA. He recorded 64 strikeouts and walked just 11 during that span.

In seven starts at Citizens Bank Park this season, Wheeler has allowed seven earned runs in 42⅓ innings for a 1.49 ERA.

He is leading a 34 innings scoreless streak at home.

Wheeler was out at 98 after six innings and the bullpen protected the lead. Right-hander Andrew Bellatti made the most of the game after the Diamondbacks charged with three two-out singles against Jeurys Familia.

As the tension mounted and a big winning streak was on the line, Bellatti came on and retired slugger Ketel Marte on a fly ball to center field to end the threat.

“It was quite an intense situation and I enjoyed it,” Bellatti said.

Seranthony Dominguez was unavailable after pitching two days in a row, so Thomson went to Bellatti.

“That’s what you have to do,” Thomson said. “He’s the next man when somebody’s down and he did it, got a big takedown.”

Brad Hand pitched a scoreless eighth inning and Cristopher Sanchez got the final three out after the Phils pushed the lead to 4-0 and Corey Knebel fell with a stiff shoulder while warming up in the bullpen.

Thomson is just the second Phillies manager to start his career 8-0, joining Pat Moran of the 1915 NL champion Phillies. He is the first major league manager to start a career with eight straight wins since Joe Morgan of the 1988 Red Sox. Morgan took over from John McNamara mid-season and won his first 12 games.

In Boston they called it Morgan Magic.

Torrid Thomson makes all the right choices. Bellatti made it look good in the seventh. And Matt Vierling made six plays (and caught a pop-up) in his very first (and we mean already) game at second base.

“The ball will find you,” joked Vierling after the game. “I thought it would affect me a lot.”


“Yeah, but it kind of went away after the first one — then they just kept coming,” he said.

The Phils go for a third straight series sweep and 10-game winning streak on Sunday with Ranger Suarez on the mound.

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