Philadelphia Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said his club had been pressing at the plate while trying to end its scoring slump.
After the Phillies took a more simple approach and halted their losing streak, they'll look to win back-to-back games for the first time in two weeks Friday night as they visit Gerrit Cole and the Pittsburgh Pirates.Philadelphia (37-48) scored 12 runs and hit .230 while dropping six straight before rallying for a 5-4 win over Miami on Thursday to avoid a three-game sweep.The Phillies trailed by a run heading to the ninth inning, but Tony Gwynn Jr. drew a leadoff walk and Ben Revere scored the go-ahead run on a bobbled ball to second base."Good thing is we didn't get swept, we were able to get a win," Gwynn said. "Hopefully it will propel us into some more. Getting swept is a bad feeling and then having to get on a plane after that is even worse."Sandberg was pleased with how the Phillies bounced back after getting shut out for the 11th time Wednesday."We basically took what they gave us," Sandberg said. "As they gave us bases our guys were alert and had the speed on the bases to get into scoring position. Then it was just balls in play and avoiding strikeouts and making something happen."The offense will look for more of the same against Cole (6-4, 4.02 ERA), who wasn't as good as he'd hoped his last time out.Cole came off the disabled list from right shoulder fatigue Saturday to face the New York Mets, but he was rusty after pitching only three simulated games rather than making a rehab start in the minors.The right-hander allowed five runs and walked three over four innings of a 5-3 loss in the shortest start of his career."I was sharp in the sim games (and) the delivery was great, but (Saturday) I just wasn't very sharp," Cole said. "The ball was elevated a lot of times and flat. I didn't expect to be nails coming out, but I definitely expected to be better."Cole also didn't have his best stuff when he faced the Phillies exactly one year ago, allowing three runs and eight hits in 5 1/3 innings of a 6-4 loss. He'll take the mound in this contest looking to help Pittsburgh bounce back from Thursday's 10-2 loss to Arizona.The Pirates (44-41) have dropped all eight of their opportunities to complete a sweep after giving up seven runs in the ninth that put the game out of reach. They had won nine of their previous 11.Pittsburgh scored fewer than three runs for the first time in seven games heading into this matchup against Roberto Hernandez, who has dealt with control problems all season.Hernandez (3-7, 4.26) has 45 walks -- among the most in the NL -- despite making three of his 18 appearances out of the bullpen.He's walked 27 over 46 innings while going 1-6 with a 4.50 ERA over his last eight starts. Hernandez gave up four runs -- two earned -- and three hits in seven innings of a 10-3 loss to Atlanta on Saturday."Hernandez (had) better stuff," Sandberg said. "Threw better than his line indicated. He hung in there and pitched pretty well."The right-hander hasn't faced the Pirates since beating them with Cleveland in 2010.
Andrew McCutchen had his 2nd 4-hit game of the season Friday with 3 extra-base hits. He is looking like an MVP since the start of June, and the Pirates have responded with the best record in the NL over that span.