The Phillies dominated on Friday night, pulling off a rare 7-2 win against the Pirates and recording their fourth victory in 16 games. Right-hander Jeremy Hellickson was the key to their win, both on the mound and at the plate, but left in the seventh inning after a bad swing at the plate caused him to tweak his back.
Hellickson won’t be out for long — according to MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, he’s experiencing lower back tightness and should be cleared for his next start — but his absence put even more strain on a bullpen that already looks maxed-out. No Phillies’ starter has pitched into the seventh inning since May 6, and not one has lasted eight innings or longer since Hellickson hurled a complete game shutout last September.
The Phillies aren’t in a position to make a play for the division title anytime soon, but Friday’s made for a nice change of pace. Hellickson was going strong before his exit, turning in six solid innings with two hits, two runs and two strikeouts for his fifth win of the year. He went 1-for-2 at the plate, taking a walk in the third inning and returning in the seventh for an RBI double — his first extra-base hit since Opening Day.