When the Cincinnati Reds Nick Senzel led off Saturday’s game against the Phillies with a double that just dropped fair in shallow right field, it seemed like an omen of another rough start for right-hander Nick Pivetta.
How quickly things can change.
Pivetta allowed a run in the first inning, but bore down to retire 17 straight Reds at one point and pitch his first career complete game.
Jay Bruce put the Phillies ahead in the bottom of the first with a two-run single. The Phillies never looked back from there.
It was the second straight stellar start for Pivetta, who blanked the National League-leading Dodgers for six innings Sunday at Dodger Stadium. He’s beginning to show signs of promise again after a rough start to 2019 that earned him a demotion to Triple-A.
The win pushed the Phillies to 10 games over .500 at 37-27 and clinched a series win over the Reds. They’ll go for the sweep at 1:05 p.m. Sunday.
After Senzel’s double in the first, Joey Votto ripped a single to right center field that put runners on the corners. Eugenio Suárez grounded a ball to third base, and Maikel Franco chose to initiate a 5-4-3 double play, letting the run score to give Cincinnati a quick lead.
Rhys Hoskins doubled with one out in the bottom of the first to put men on second and third, then J.T. Realmuto walked to load the bases for Bruce. He lined a 2-2 pitch from Tanner Roark into right-center to stay red-hot and put the Phillies ahead, 2-1.
It was all the offense Pivetta needed. He sat down the next 17 Reds, holding Cincinnati without a single baserunner through the sixth inning.
Meanwhile, Realmuto led off the bottom of the fourth with a solo homer to double the Phillies lead:
HR 1️⃣ 0️⃣ FOR NO. 1️⃣ 0️⃣
Realmuto sends it flying out of the park for a solo shot to stretch the Phillies lead to 3-1! pic.twitter.com/3Pmw6sfRAZ
— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) June 8, 2019
Jean Segura’s two-out triple down the left-field line in the fifth brought in Bryce Harper from first base, making it 4-1 in the Phillies favor.
Votto led off the top of the seventh with the first hit off Pivetta since his own line-drive single to right-center in the first inning. But Pivetta struck out Suárez and Derek Dietrich, then got Jesse Winker to ground out to end the inning with no damage.
Back-to-back singles started the eighth against Pivetta, but the Phillies turned a huge 5-4-3 double play to kill the Cincinnati threat. Pinch-hitter José Iglesias grounded out to short to end the inning, keeping the Reds off the board again in Pivetta’s seventh straight scoreless frame.
After another shutdown inning from the Reds bullpen, Senzel led off the ninth with a hustle double to center field. But Pivetta bore down to retire three straight hitters and hurl his first major league complete game.
On Sunday afternoon, Phillies right-hander Aaron Nola (4.63 ERA) will face Reds righty Sonny Gray (3.54 ERA) at 1:05 p.m.
- Tanner Roark allowed four runs in five innings. The former Washington National couldn’t escape a long first inning without allowing Bruce’s two-run single, and he was similarly victimized by a soft base hit from Harper with two out in the fifth, before Segura ripped a triple down the line in left. Overall, Roark wasn’t particularly effective.
- Nick Pivetta was masterful, keeping the Reds scoreless after the first inning and pitching a complete game. Even in that first frame, he settled down to induce a double play and get out of the inning with relatively little damage. He then retired 17 straight Reds, not allowing another base hit until the seventh inning.
PHILLIES NUGGETS PLAYER OF THE GAME: Nick Pivetta
- There’s no question about the player of Saturday’s game: It was Pivetta, going away. He has improved significantly since the beginning of the season, when he was demoted to Triple-A Lehigh Valley after a rough start to the year. The Phillies have seen occasional dominant performances from Pivetta before, but nothing quite like this.
- Sunday, June 9th
- 1:05 p.m. ET
- TV: NBC Sports Philadelphia
- Radio: SportsRadio 94 WIP, WTTM 1680 (Spanish)
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