September 07, 2014

PHILADELPHIA -- Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said after Tuesday's game that he might be onto something.

This came after he was reminded that Tuesday's ejection was the 51st of his career and sixth of 2016.

Whatever he was trying to do -- whether he was really mad at first base umpire Alan Porter or trying to ignite a team that had lost 12 of 14 -- it worked.

The Pirates won when trailing after eight innings for the first time since July 12, 2014 -- a stretch of 140 games.

Sean Rodriguez's three-run, go-ahead home run gave Pittsburgh a 5-3 win over the Phillies.

The win came at a much-needed time. They're not mathematically out of the playoffs just yet, though it would take an awful lot for them to catch the New York Mets or St. Louis Cardinals at this point. They entered Monday six games out of the final wild-card spot.

They left Monday with -- finally -- a little bit of momentum.

"We've been scratching and clawing every game," Hurdle said. "If you're not in the dugout, you don't feel the angst sometimes. When your offense is scratching to score runs, they take the at-bats personal. They try to keep it professional, but they take them personal.

"For us to battle back like that, it just goes to show you the guys are still going to play, they're still going to fight."

The same can be said of the Phillies' starting pitching staff. The offense has put up the lowest run totals in the league, but the organization has to be happy about the young starting pitchers as 2016 winds down.

The bullpen, not so much. Jeanmar Gomez's blown save Tuesday was his fifth of the year and he now has a 5.21 ERA in 19 save situations at home this season. The bullpen was a strong suit earlier in the year. But the starters have been hung out to dry lately.

"Our entire bullpen hasn't really hung in there that well," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "I'm excited about the starting pitching."

Alec Asher delivered the 11th consecutive start of Phillies starting pitching allowing three runs or less. The last time a Phillies staff did that was in 2011, when the team boasted the likes of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt. During the streak, Phillies starters have the best ERA in the league.

Wednesday night will feature young righty Jake Thompson, who has lately been a much better pitcher after struggling in his first four starts. Thompson (1-5, 6.05 ERA) faces Pittsburgh left-hander Steven Brault (0-2, 3.38) when the four-game series continues in Philadelphia on Wednesday night (7:05 p.m. EST).

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