|Phillies look to compound Pirates' misery|
The Philadelphia Phillies are heating up while their opponents this weekend, the Pittsburgh Pirates, are fizzling.
The Phillies, who have won three of their past four after a 6-1 victory in the series opener Friday at PNC Park, are getting the kind of production they might expect from right fielder Bryce Harper.
Harper had a good series earlier this week with three two-hit games as the Phillies split four games against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He had three doubles and drove in seven runs.
On Friday, he went 2-for-5 with a two-out RBI single in the seventh that was the team's first hit of the game with a runner in scoring position and stood up as the winning run. He also hit a double.
Over his past 23 games, Harper is batting .321 (27-for-84) with seven doubles, five homers and 20 RBIs.
"We've leaned on him, and we've leaned all season long on him, and we're going to continue to lean on him as an emotional leader and the producer that he is on the bases, at the plate and on defense," Philadelphia manager Gabe Kapler said of Harper.
Pittsburgh is looking for anyone to lean in in an effort to escape a slump. The Pirates, who opened a seven-game homestand Friday, are 1-6 since the All-Star break.
On Saturday, Philadelphia right-hander Zach Eflin (7-9, 4.16 ERA) is scheduled to face Pittsburgh righty Joe Musgrove (6-8, 4.31).
Eflin is 2-6 in his past 10 starts since he won three starts in a row. On Monday against the Dodgers, he gave up seven runs and nine hits in six innings, with five strikeouts and a walk.
He needed to go that long into a 16-2 loss to help because of an overtaxed bullpen. Afterward, Eflin felt compelled to speak for the team as whole.
"We're all calm," said Eflin, who threw a three-hit shutout in his only career appearance against the Pirates, back in 2016. "There's no need to panic. We know how good we're going to be, and it's just going to take that one time, that one game that everything clicks, and then it's going to be a fun rest of the year."
It's difficult to say the Phillies had that moment, but they have seemed to take a turn for the better.
Musgrove, meanwhile, is moving up to make the Saturday start. Trevor Williams was originally slated to go, but late in Friday's game, the Pirates announced that Williams would miss the game because of what was termed "severe flu-like symptoms." Manager Clint Hurdle said Williams' illness developed Thursday night into Friday.
Musgrove is 0-1 and has allowed eight runs, seven earned, over 10 2/3 innings in his past two starts.
On Monday in a 7-0 loss at St. Louis during which the Pirates seemed discombobulated all around, Musgrove went 4 2/3 innings, giving up five hits and five runs, four earned, with seven strikeouts and three walks.
"It's just one of those games where I had to grind my way through and try to make things work," he said.
Musgrove has never started against Philadelphia, although he has pitched three scoreless innings in relief vs. the Phillies.
--Field Level Media