ST. LOUIS — The starting pitching that the Phillies have been getting lately just makes you say, “Wow.”
Vince Velasquez offered up the gem du jour in Thursday night’s 6-2 win over the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium.
Featuring a power, four-seam fastball that topped out at 97.8 mph, Velasquez pitched 6 1/3 shutout innings. He walked two and struck out five. He received a nice assist from rookie Seranthony Dominguez, who retired two batters after the Cardinals had put runners on second and third with one out in the seventh inning and the Phils nursing a 1-0 lead.
Velasquez has won his last three starts, allowing just four runs in 17 1/3 innings (see story).
The Phillies, who entered the day a game behind Atlanta in the NL East, are now nine games over .500 at 25-16. They are 24-12 since their 1-4 start. They are 17-2 against teams from outside the division.
The Phils have won eight of their last 10 games and are just a pair of ninth-inning blown saves from 10 straight wins.
The starting pitching has been pretty amazing over those 10 games. It has given up just eight earned runs in 62 1/3 innings over that span. That’s a 1.15 ERA.
St. Louis right-hander Luke Weaver limited the Phillies to just four hits over seven innings, but one of them landed far over the center-field wall. That was Carlos Santana’s seventh homer of the season, a booming, 437-foot bomb in the fifth inning. The homer staked the Phils to a 1-0 lead.
Santana hit just .153 with two homers and 11 RBIs in the first month of the season. He has warmed considerably in May. The home run was his sixth in 13 games this month and he has 17 RBIs.
The Phillies scored three runs in the eighth to take a 4-0 lead. Aaron Altherr had a two-run single and Odubel Herrera an RBI single. Herrera had two hits and a walk. He has reached base in 43 straight games, dating to last season, and leads the majors with a .363 batting average.
After the Cardinals cut the Phillies’ lead to two in the bottom of the eighth, the Phillies pulled away on a two-run homer by Pedro Florimon in the ninth.
Edubray Ramos loaded the bases before getting the final three outs for the Phillies.
• Lefty reliever Adam Morgan, who had been sidelined with a back strain, was activated from the disabled list. Pitching for the first time in 11 days, he got a huge out in the eighth inning. He is the only lefty on the Phillies’ staff.
• J.P. Crawford took early batting practice and infield work then headed off to Clearwater to ramp up his rehab from a right forearm strain. Crawford said he was pain free. He hopes to be playing in minor-league games by the end of next week.
• Jerad Eickhoff is expected to make his next rehab start Sunday for Triple A Lehigh Valley. Eickhoff is fully recovered from a lat strain suffered in spring training. He is building his innings and pitch counts and should be ready to come off the disabled list by the end of the month. Still to be determined is where he will slot into the rotation. Phillies starters entered Thursday night with a 3.46 ERA, sixth best in the majors.