Brignac plays Phils hero a second straight day

Posted: June 14, 2014

Reid Brignac, 28, has lived more in the minor leagues than the majors the last four seasons. He is a spare part. He is a former second-round pick who never fulfilled his potential. But now, after a 7-3 victory Thursday, he has achieved temporary hero status with the Phillies.

That is not a difficult feat on a last-place team, not when three weeks had passed between three-game winning streaks. Brignac, with two clutch swings, helped author wins in the last two days against San Diego, another cursed team.

"It's a really humbling feeling," Brignac said.

The Phillies swept the Padres, a feeble team with the worst on-base percentage in baseball by far at .275. Kyle Kendrick allowed two more first-inning runs; John Mayberry Jr. was twice thrown out at home plate. But the home team prevailed on a dreary afternoon when rainwater pooled on the Citizens Bank Park infield.

Brignac smashed a two-run double to break a 2-2 tie in the sixth. "Sleep fast," he said late Wednesday night after his game-winning, three-run homer in the ninth inning beat San Diego. Brignac did not start Thursday; his key swing came as a pinch-hitter for Kendrick in the sixth.

Ryan Howard pinch-hit right before Brignac and struck out. He battled Padres reliever Dale Thayer for 13 pitches. Thayer threw nine fastballs, two change-ups, and two sliders. Brignac saw it all from the on-deck circle.

"I'm getting my timing on every pitch and he was pretty consistent on his rhythm," the infielder said. "It was nice to see that many pitches on deck, for sure."

A three-game winning streak is not insignificant, although the quality of the opponent must be considered. The Padres as a team have a .216 batting average and a .344 slugging percentage. They rank last in baseball in those categories. They pinch-hit for their No. 3 hitter in the eighth inning, a sign of weakness.

For the Phillies, this marked the first series sweep since April 11-13 against Miami. They were 6-6 then, and everything seemed possible. They need a month of good baseball to recover that spirit.

"Well," manager Ryne Sandberg said, "it's what we were looking for, and all we can do is create some momentum from that."

Sandberg decided Wednesday night that Mayberry would start at first base over Howard, who had faced Padres starter Eric Stults twice and homered both times. Mayberry offered better defense at first against San Diego's lefthanded-heavy lineup.

He raked three extra-base hits, including a three-run homer in the seventh that clinched the outcome. Mayberry has a .951 OPS this season.

The offense atoned for another slow start by Kendrick. Two runs scored on Chase Headley's double to right; one was unearned because of a Marlon Byrd error. Kendrick has allowed 15 runs (13 earned) in the first innings of his 13 starts. Only Colorado's Juan Nicasio has permitted more first-inning runs. But Kendrick has a 3.16 ERA after the first inning. He shut down San Diego with relative ease after the two-run first.

"It's puzzling, really is," Sandberg said. "He's trying to work on that. He's trying to work on establishing the strike zone. It is something he needs to get better at."

"I don't have an answer," Kendrick said. "I've tried a lot of things. I don't know. Maybe next game I won't warm up."

What has he tried?

"Everything," Kendrick said. "Honestly, the best answer is I'm just up in the first inning. Everything is just a little up. I don't know if it's because I'm amped up or what. . . . It's frustrating, obviously. I'm just glad I'm pitching better after that."

The Phillies answered for one run in the bottom half. Jimmy Rollins lashed an RBI single. He is two hits from breaking Mike Schmidt's franchise record. His teammates handled the rest Thursday.


BY THE NUMBERS

100

m.p.h. pitch thrown by Ken Giles, according to Citizens Bank Park scoreboard

2

Sweeps by the Phillies this year

6

Times the Phillies have been swept this year


mgelb@phillynews.com

@magelb inquirer.com/phillieszone

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