|Phillies know time is running out, set for Red Sox finale|
All but eliminated from the American League playoff picture, the Boston Red Sox have the chance to play spoiler down the stretch.
They did so Saturday night, dealing the host Philadelphia Phillies a costly 2-1 defeat. Boston will now look to complete a two-game sweep when the two teams take the field Sunday afternoon.
Right-hander Rick Porcello (12-12, 5.83 ERA) will take the mound for the Red Sox. The Phillies will counter with lefty Jason Vargas (6-7, 4.31).
Andrew Benintendi hit a tiebreaking sacrifice fly in the top of the ninth inning to lead Boston past Philadelphia on Saturday night. Both teams were quiet on offense through the first six innings -- held to two hits apiece -- before each scoring a run in the seventh.
The loss dropped the Phillies to 3 1/2 games back in the crowded National League wild-card chase. Philadelphia (76-71) is 4-6 in its last 10 games.
"It's go time, right?" said Phillies first baseman Rhys Hoskins. "Every loss feels heavier, and every win feels a lot better."
After Sunday, the Phillies take the road for a pivotal 11-game stretch, including five against the wild-card-leading Washington Nationals. Each game on the trip will come against a team that has either clinched a playoff berth or is still fighting to get in.
"We know the teams that we're playing are good, but again I'll just kind of reiterate: If we can play our game and obviously pitch the way we did [Saturday] and hit the way we know we can, we believe and are confident that we can beat anybody. Home or away," said Hoskins.
The days of fight are nearly over for the Red Sox (78-70), who are 10 games back in the AL wild-card standings. Manager Alex Cora held outfielder Mookie Betts (foot) and utility man Brock Holt (illness) from the starting lineup Saturday, admitting both could have played if postseason implications were on the line.
"They both were like, 'Hey, we're good,' but I'll take [the decision] away from them," said Cora.
Holt came on as a pinch hitter and walked as part of the game-winning rally, while Betts might return Sunday.
Vargas will take the mound for the Phillies still seeking his first win with the club since being acquired just ahead of the trade deadline. He's gone 0-2 with a 5.01 ERA in eight starts in Philadelphia, giving up at least four runs in half those outings.
Vargas was tagged for four runs (two earned) on six hits in three innings against the Atlanta Braves his last time out. Vargas is 3-3 with a 3.48 ERA in eight career starts against the Red Sox, only facing the club once (2017) since 2014.
Porcello is nearing the end of a nightmare campaign, as he has the highest ERA in the league among qualified starters. The 30-year-old has struggled even more in September, with 12 runs allowed over eight innings (13.50 ERA) across two starts.
Porcello is 2-2 with a 4.50 ERA in five career starts versus the Phillies.
--Field Level Media