Rojas, VanMeter Pace Diamondbacks to Victory over Phillies

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Diamondbacks 3, Phillies 2

PHOENIX, Aug. 17 — Shortstop Josh Rojas went 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI, and second baseman Josh VanMeter hit a key sixth-inning home run to lead the Arizona Diamondbacks past the Philadelphia Phillies, 3–2, Tuesday night.

Phillies Take Early Lead, Diamondbacks Even It Up

The game had a quiet beginning, as both starters — Taylor Widener for the Diamondbacks and Kyle Gibson for the Phillies — dominated early. Phillies right fielder and MVP contender Bryce Harper broke the ice in the third with his 22nd homer of the season, a solo shot to right-center. Widener said about the at-bat, “You can’t fall behind hitters like that. I’ve got to make better-quality pitches early in the at-bat. Because then whenever I’m down in a 3–1 count as a hitter — especially with how hot he is right now — I just threw a fastball. I missed my spot, first off. He hit my mistake, so there’s nothing I can do but tip the cap to him on that one.”

The Diamondbacks evened it up in the bottom of the fifth. Catcher Daulton Varsho — whose dad, Gary, played on the Chicago Cubs with Phillies manager Joe Girardi — led off with a double to the right-field corner. After pinch-hitter Drew Ellis struck out looking, the red-hot Rojas plated Varsho with a double to left.

Diamondbacks Pull Ahead, Hang On

The bottom of the sixth had the makings of another 1-2-3 inning by Gibson, but a two-out walk by first baseman Christian Walker extended the inning for VanMeter. On 2-2, he deposited a slider inches over the right-field fence, giving the Diamondbacks a 3–1 lead. VanMeter said, “I was still pretty upset with myself that (Gibson) punched me out the inning before, and thankfully, (Walker) put together a really nice at-bat to give me the chance to be in that situation. I feel like I really didn’t get anything to hit until the pitch that I did hit. (Gibson) left a slider over the over the middle of the plate, and I was able to ride it out — get the barrel there — and, thankfully, it went over the fence.”

The bottom of the eighth saw an odd play. Batting with two out, left fielder David Peralta lifted a foul fly toward the left-field seats. Andrew McCutchen ran it down and reached to make the catch. A spectator reached above McCutchen’s glove and caught the ball, appearing to reach over the fence in the process. If this were the case, Peralta would have been out for spectator interference. After review, the ruling was no interference, so Peralta stayed alive. However, the fan who grabbed the ball — despite it not being interference — was led away by security anyway. Peralta swung and missed the next pitch, ending the inning.

An Interesting Ending

Tyler Clippard took the hill to close the game. After locking up McCutchen on a called third strike, he gave up a double off the wall to first baseman Brad Miller. A fly to right by Ronald Torreyes advanced Miller to third, bringing up Travis Jankowski, who walked. That brought up pinch-hitter Alec Bohm. A wild pitch on 0-2 plated McCutchen, making the score 3–2. Bohm lofted the next pitch to left, giving the Diamondbacks the victory and Clippard his third save.

Looking Ahead

Miguel Aguilar (1–1) earned the win in relief, while Gibson (8–5) took the loss. The Diamondbacks (39–81) and Phillies (61–58) will play the second game of their three-game series Wednesday evening. Ranger Suarez (5–3, 1.07 ERA) will take the mound for the Phillies against Diamondbacks right-hander Humberto Castellanos (0–1, 2.30 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 6:40 pm Arizona Time.

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Players mentioned:

Josh Rojas, Josh VanMeter, Taylor Widener, Kyle Gibson, Bryce Harper, Daulton Varsho, Gary Varsho, Joe Girardi, Drew Ellis, Christian Walker, David Peralta, Andrew McCutchen, Tyler Clippard, Brad Miller, Ronald Torreyes, Travis Jankowski, Alec Bohm, Miguel Aguilar, Ranger Suarez, Humberto Castellanos