Hellickson quiets Pirates before exiting with injury
PITTSBURGH -- Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Jeremy Hellickson did not want to leave the game, but he already made his mark on the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday.
The veteran right-hander gave up two hits in six solid innings and smacked a run-scoring double before leaving after feeling pain in his side in Philadelphia’s 7-2 win over Pittsburgh.
Hellickson (5-1) yielded two first-inning runs and nothing else. He retired 16 of the last 17 batters he faced -- the exception was a walk -- and threw 84 pitches, 52 for strikes
He exited after his double gave Philadelphia a 4-2 lead in the seventh, grimacing after fouling off the previous pitch.
”It just kind of grabbed on me,“ Hellickson said. ”I’ll be fine. It was really nothing. Just low-back tightness really. Nothing (more).
“We’ll know more tomorrow, but I feel fine. I think I could have stayed in. He (manager Pete Mackanin) didn’t want me to.”
With Hellickson out, Pat Neshek, Joaquin Benoit and Hector Neris held the Pirates at bay, combining on three scoreless innings.
Cameron Rupp’s opposite field, three-run homer in the ninth provided insurance.
Hellickson’s showing helped the Phillies win for only the fourth time in 19 games since April 29. Hellickson was a major culprit of the skid as he was 0-1 with a 7.90 ERA in his last three starts after going 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA in April.
Last season, Hellickson, 30, was 12-10 with a 3.71 ERA.
“He looked tonight like he did all last year except for a few outings, and likewise, the early part of the year when he was 4-0,” Mackanin said. “He just cut everybody up. He changed speeds, kept everybody off balance, located his fastball. For a few starts there he hung some pitches, made some mistakes at the wrong time and got burnt.”
Said Hellickson: My command was better. Everything was down. The mistakes I was making (earlier this month) were costing me. The mistakes I made tonight were outs. It’s just the difference between a home run and a lineout.”
Hellickson encountered trouble at the start, not all of it his fault.
Josh Harrison opened the game with a single and scored on Josh Bell’s double. Those would be the Pirates’ only two hits until the ninth inning.
Bell took third on a David Freese groundout before scoring on a defensive miscue by the Phillies.
The inning appeared over when shortstop Freddy Galvis fielded Francisco Cervelli’s grounder. His low throw to first got past Tommy Joseph and allowed Bell to score the Pirates’ second run.
After the early Pittsburgh threat, Hellickson was superb. He ended the first by getting Jose Osuna on a groundout and only allowed a walk to Andrew McCutchen in the fourth.
“That’s what he does when he’s successful, a two-seamer,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “He pitches off the fastball a little bit. The curveball he used as well tonight. The two off-speed pitches, the breaking ball, the changeup. So he’s one of those guys you try to sit soft, do the best you can, try and take a pitch away.”
The Phillies broke through in the third when Pirates starter Trevor Williams (2-3) gave up a leadoff double to Galvis and walked Hellickson after Rupp grounded out. Cesar Hernandez ripped a single up the middle to score Galvis.
Philadelphia took the lead in the sixth.
Hernandez drew a leadoff walk and Daniel Nava flicked a soft double down the left-field line. Aaron Altherr then lined a shot off Williams’ leg that turned into an out at first base, scoring Hernandez.
Joseph’s sacrifice fly then sent Nava home to put Philadelphia ahead 3-2.
Hellickson’s double in the seventh of Josh Lindblom scored Maikel Franco with the fourth run and Rupp capped the scoring by homering off Tony Watson.
NOTES: Pittsburgh claimed RHP Jhan Marinez off waivers from the Milwaukee Brewers. Marinez was 0-2 with a 5.40 ERA in 15 appearances for Milwaukee before being designated for assignment on Monday. ... Philadelphia OF Daniel Nava left the game with left hamstring tightness. ... The Phillies recalled RHP Adam Morgan from Triple-A Lehigh Valley. ... Pittsburgh 1B Josh Bell had two more hits and extended his hitting streak to seven games. During that span he has hit four home runs. ... Pirates rookie Danny Ortiz started his first game, in left field. He went 0-for-3.