Santana, Eflin lead Phillies past Marlins
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — To some, the Phillies’ worst-to-first turnaround may be surprising. Not to Zach Eflin, though.
Eflin allowed three runs in eight strong innings and Carlos Santana had three hits, including one of Philadelphia’s four homers, to lead the surging Phillies to an 8-3 victory over the Miami Marlins on Saturday night.
Cesar Hernandez, Nick Williams and Asdrubal Cabrera also went deep for the Phillies (62-48), who won their fourth straight to move 1½ games ahead of Atlanta for first place in the NL East. Philadelphia finished 2017 with a 66-96 mark, 31 games out of first place.
Now, they are in a pennant race.
“It’s where we should be,” Eflin said. “All we did was win in the minor leagues. We plan on staying here. We don’t plan on going anywhere.”
Eflin (8-3) gave up four hits with six strikeouts and no walks to reverse his recent fortunes. The right-hander entered 0-1 with a 6.92 ERA in his last three outings, but started strong on Saturday by retiring the first 12 Marlins before Bour led off the fifth with a towering homer to deep center. The right-hander retired eight of the next nine before a single and Rojas’ two-run shot to start the eighth. Eflin got the next three batters to end his night after just 85 pitches.
“Eflin was dynamic,” Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said.
The Phillies staked Eflin to a 5-0 lead through three thanks to Williams’ three-run, opposite-field homer to left in the first and Cabrera’s two-run shot to right in the third. It was Cabrera’s first home run for the Phillies, who acquired the veteran infielder from the Mets on July 27 to bolster their offense.
“I feel very good,” Cabrera said. “I’m just trying to do my best to help the team win.”
After Bour made it a 5-1 game, Santana led off the bottom of the fifth with a 423-foot drive to the second deck.
“Santana swinging the bat like tonight gives us incredible confidence,” Kapler said.
It was the third homer surrendered by Jose Urena (3-11), who continued his season-long slump after a strong 2017 campaign. The right-hander allowed six runs on eight hits in five innings to raise his ERA to 4.66. Urena has struggled even more lately, going 1-3 with a 6.40 ERA while giving up 37 hits in 32 1/3 innings over his last seven outings.
“We couldn’t stop the long ball,” manager Don Mattingly said. “It kind of deflated us pretty good.”
Justin Bour and Miguel Rojas homered for Miami, which has dropped five in a row and nine of 12.
“We just haven’t played well enough to win,” Mattingly said. “We have to keep fighting. We have to find who will continue to grind and battle.”
The Phillies honored the late Roy Halladay in an emotional pregame ceremony, inducting the two-time Cy Young winner who threw a perfect game and postseason no-hitter during his tenure with the Phillies from 2010-2013 into the club’s Wall of Fame. Carlos Ruiz, Halladay’s battery mate with the Phillies, kissed Halladay’s likeness after unveiling the plaque. Former Phillies manager Charlie Manuel and pitching coach Rich Dubee poignantly remembered Halladay before Halladay’s wife, Brandy, gave a teary-eyed tribute that ended with a video montage she dedicated to her late husband.
“He was a better man than he was a ballplayer,” Brandy Halladay said.
Halladay died last November in Florida when the airplane he was piloting crashed into the Gulf of Mexico.
Rojas’ homer was his eighth of the season but first since going deep twice on May 20. It was a span of 209 plate appearances between home runs.
Rhys Hoskins went 0-for-2 with a pair of walks to extend his career-high on-base streak to 21 consecutive games.
Phillies: RHP Jerad Eickhoff pitched two perfect innings, striking out two, in a rehab outing Friday with Single-A Clearwater. Eickhoff has been out all season with a right lat strain.
Miami swapped starters for the series finale on Sunday afternoon, bumping up RHP Dan Straily (4-4, 4.41) to face Phillies All-Star RHP Aaron Nola (12-3, 2.35) and moving LHP Wei-Yin Chen to Monday’s home game against St. Louis. Straily has lost his last two starts, allowing eight earned runs on 16 hits in 9 1/3 innings. Chen has a 2.18 ERA in eight home starts and a 10.27 mark in nine road games.