PITTSBURGH (AP) — Jeremy Hellickson allowed just two hits over six innings before leaving with an injury and the Philadelphia Phillies pulled away from the Pittsburgh Pirates 7-2 on Friday night to end a four-game losing streak.
Hellickson (5-1) struck out two and walked one, retiring 16 of the final 17 batters he faced to win for the first time in more than three weeks. He left after grabbing his right side while running out an RBI double in the seventh.
Maikel Franco and Freddy Galvis had two hits each for the Phillies. Cameron Rupp added a three-run homer in the ninth to give Philadelphia’s struggling bullpen plenty of breathing room.
Josh Bell had two of Pittsburgh’s three hits. Trevor Williams (2-3) pitched effectively for five innings before the Phillies got to him in the sixth to take the lead.
Philadelphia manager Pete Mackanin called a team meeting on Friday with his club in a 3-15 tailspin following an ugly three-game sweep in Texas. Pitching has been the main issue, with Hellickson’s play emblematic of a staff looking for consistency. He went 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA in April but went to work at PNC Park winless with a 7.90 ERA in three starts this month.
It looked like it would be another rough night early. Josh Harrison led off with a double and scored on Bell’s single to the gap in left-center. The Pirates added a second run on a throwing error by shortstop Freddy Galvis.
It would be the last signs of life by Pittsburgh’s offense. Hellickson settled down quickly, the only baserunner over his final five innings came on a two-out walk in the fourth. He was only at 84 pitches through six innings but held his right side in pain as he made his way to second after doubling home Franco to put the Phillies up 4-2.
Philadelphia’s bullpen, which posted a 6.34 ERA during the first six games of the current road trip, made sure the lead stood up.
The Phillies didn’t push Williams around but instead pecked away, eventually taking the lead in the sixth on a run-scoring grounder by Aaron Altherr and a sacrifice fly by Tommy Joseph. Williams allowed three runs in 5 2/3 innings, walking two.
Phillies: RF Daniel Nava left after five innings with left hamstring tightness. He was replaced by Michael Saunders, who was held out of the starting lineup a day after leaving a loss to Texas with tightness in his left groin. … Reliever Jeanmar Gomez (right elbow impingement) went through a bullpen session without incident on Thursday. If Gomez completes two more bullpen sessions, Mackanin said the team may opt not to send Gomez out on a rehab assignment.
Pirates: P Jameson Taillon is upbeat less than two weeks after being diagnosed with testicular cancer. The 25-year-old remains out indefinitely and will undergo tests next week before the next step in the treatment process begins. “Everything I’ve gotten back regarding (previous test results) I’ve taken as good news,” Taillon said. “It could be a lot worse.”
Phillies: Vince Velasquez will make his second career start against Pittsburgh. Velasquez (2-3, 5.67) gave up three runs, two earned, in five innings last Sunday against Washington.
Pirates: Ivan Nova (3-3, 2.48 ERA) will search for his first victory in May on Saturday. Nova was the NL Pitcher of the Month in April but is winless in his last three starts.
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