By Todd Zolecki and Michael Radano
MLB.com |@ToddZolecki |
PHILADELPHIA -- The Padres avoided a season sweep to the Phillies on Sunday, thanks to a little star power.
Matt Kemp and Justin Upton homered while James Shields allowed just one run in seven innings in a 9-4 victory at Citizens Bank Park. It was the Padres' only victory in six games this season against the Phillies.
"I'm not worried about who we play, I'm worried about how we play," Padres interim manager Pat Murphy said. "We didn't play well in Washington but we squeaked out with a win. We didn't play well here, but we played better today. What I learned is that these guys still have a little fight in them. They are excited about playing [the Dodgers in the next series]. I know they are."
Phillies right-hander Alec Asher made his big league debut. Asher, whom the Phillies acquired from Texas in the Cole Hamels trade, allowed a two-run homer to Kemp in the first inning to make it 2-0 and a solo homer to Upton in the third to make it 3-0. Asher then allowed a two-out single to Shields in the sixth, which scored the Padres' fourth run.
"I liked him," Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin said about Asher. "I liked his stuff. I liked his approach. He got behind too often, he left the ball up in the zone a little too often. It's understandable when a guy is in his first Major League appearance in front of his home [fans]."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Shields does it all: Shields certainly deserved to get the decision on Sunday as he contributed on both sides of the plate. Shields worked seven innings in which he allowed one run on six hits with a walk and eight strikeouts to secure his 10th win of the year. He also picked up his first RBI of the season in the sixth that gave the Padres a 4-1 lead.
"He has quite a way of letting everyone know what he does," Murphy said. "That was huge, the way we're scuffling especially against the Phillies, for our big game guy to come through for us."
Hernandez snaps slump? Phillies second baseman Cesar Hernandez entered the game hitting .133 (8-for-60) in his last 17 games, but he went 2-for-4 with one triple and one RBI. Mackanin hopes it is a sign. Mackanin thought about keeping on Hernandez on the bench to clear his head, but he decided against it.
"I just decided to make him battle out of it," Mackanin said. "That's what we need to see. If he's going to be the everyday second baseman, we want him to play 160 games."
Power surge: The Padres spread out three home runs off two pitchers to take a 5-1 lead after seven innings. The Padres are one of only 10 teams to have two players with more than 70 RBIs this season with both Kemp (80 RBIs) and Upton (72) reaching that mark. More >
Rupp stays hot: The Phillies could not get anything going offensively against Shields, except for Cameron Rupp's solo home run to right field in the second. It was Rupp's fourth home run in his last six games, and his seventh homer in August. He is the first Phillies' catcher to hit seven or more homers in a month since Mike Lieberthal hit eight in Aug. 2002. He is the first Phillies rookie catcher to have seven or more homers in a month since Butch Henline had seven in Sept. 1922.
"Comfortable, seeing the ball, timing is there," Rupp said. "I'm getting a lot of playing time, and I think that just makes a huge difference, when you're getting everyday at-bats and you're seeing guys [for a second time]. I think that's been huge."
"The ship has sailed and we're way behind. We've got to play with urgency and to me, this was the best day game urgency I've seen. That's what it takes." -- Murphy, on the Padres place in the National League West standings.
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Phillies center fielder Odubel Herrera went 4-for-4. It was the first four-hit game of his career. He has hit safely in 26 of his last 31 games. He is hitting .344 (42-for-122) in that stretch.
WHAT'S NEXT Padres: The Padres return home for a three-game series against the Rangers on Monday at 7:10 p.m. PT at Petco Park. Tyson Ross will get the start as the Padres begin an 11-game homestand that includes visits from the Dodgers (4) and Rockies (4).
Phillies: The Phillies open a three-game series Monday night against the Mets at Citi Field at 7:10 ET. They certainly hope it goes better than it went last week, when the Mets swept them in a four-game series at Citizens Bank Park.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. Michael Radano is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.