Phillies Game Story

Castellanos and Rojas rescue Phillies with 9th-inning jacks

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ANAHEIM — Nick Castellanos raised his right hand high in the air and pointed toward the seats in right-center field, knowing just where the ball he launched in the top of the ninth inning Tuesday night was headed.

"Just excited," he said shortly after his game-tying home run. "I hit it, I had a really good feeling it was gonna go out and it just happened.

"To be able to come through because I feel like there's been so many spots so far this season where I haven't, just to be able to pick them up feels great."

Castellanos' solo home run, No. 2 on the year, reset the score against Angels closer Carlos Estevez. Bryson Stott followed with a double and Johan Rojas drilled a low-and-in slider over the wall in left for a game-winning two-run shot, his first of the year.

The Phillies won, 7-5, to even the series and avoid what would have been a frustrating loss after blowing an early three-run lead for the second straight night.

"I thought that was one of the better wins of the year, really, just because of what happened last night where we got out to a 3-0 lead, they came back and we didn't recover," manager Rob Thomson said. "Tonight, we recovered and overcame it. Guys kept fighting."

Trea Turner's error and Yunior Marte's ineffectiveness in the bottom of the sixth nearly cost the Phils the game.

Spencer Turnbull dazzled again but was at 98 pitches so he was pulled after 5⅓ innings when Taylor Ward singled. Brandon Drury, who is not a fast runner, grounded a ball hard right at Turner for a tailor-made 6-4-3 double play but Turner tried to work too quickly and muffed the grounder. No out was recorded on the play, and Luis Rengifo hit a go-ahead three-run homer off Marte on the very next pitch.

Marte allowed well-struck balls to Rengifo (homer), Cole Tucker (double) and Mickey Moniak (single) in the inning. He has allowed four earned runs on seven hits over his last 3⅔ innings after giving up one run on five hits in his first 9⅔ innings.

This is where the ripple effect of bullpen performance is felt. If Seranthony Dominguez wasn't scuffling, the sixth-inning relief appearance may have gone to Jeff Hoffman, the right-hander the Phillies typically use in "dirty innings" with runner(s) aboard. But with Dominguez not pitching well, Hoffman is more important as a right-handed option in the eighth or ninth innings.

"Winning's always better when you face adversity and are able to triumph," Castellanos said. "I think it also was a good test of character of the team. We had a game where we were in front, they went ahead, we could have folded and, 'Ah well, we'll come back tomorrow,' but we were able to finish it off the right way and give ourselves a chance to win a series tomorrow."

Turnbull gave up just one earned run on four hits over 5⅓ innings and his ERA actually went up to 1.39. His opponents are 17-for-115 this season, hitting .148.

It could be his last for a little while. Taijuan Walker is back in the rotation, and with off-days May 2 and May 9, the Phillies don't want to utilize a six-man staff over the next 10 days because they feel it would give their pitchers too much rest between starts.

It won't be Turnbull's final start of 2024, though. It could make sense for the Phillies to shift back to a six-man rotation during their next gauntlet of games. They play 19 in 20 days from May 10-29 so perhaps Turnbull starts once or twice during that stretch. They could also skip a starter at times. They are conscious of Cristopher Sanchez' workload and don't seem to want to push him to 175 or so innings. Thomson said over the weekend that the Phils could piggyback Sanchez and Turnbull at times, as well.

Turnbull said after the game that the team hadn't spelled out to him what will happen next.

"I'm not worried about it," he said. "Just focused on making my start tonight and enjoying the win. Do my normal routine the next couple days, got the off-day Thursday. I'm sure they'll talk to me."

It's been a pretty sweet first month with his new team, though.

"Definitely really pleased with it and excited," he said. "The team's rolling and it's a lot of fun. I think the biggest confidence booster is just that I've been able to go deep into games. That was the only question mark, just as a starter, I think that's the biggest thing. But stuff-wise and getting results, the confidence has been there. It's just obviously nice to see my hard work pay off. But it's so early in the season. Got to keep it rolling."

The Phillies scored first for the ninth straight game when Kyle Schwarber tattooed a 421-foot, three-run shot in the second inning. It was his career-high eighth home run in April.

The Phils finish April 20-11, their most wins in franchise history in the opening month. Despite not slugging the first two weeks, they end April leading the National League with 40 home runs.

They go for the series win Wednesday at 1:10 p.m. ET with their ace, Zack Wheeler, on the mound. The Phillies face inefficient but occasionally stifling lefty Patrick Sandoval. His .193 career opponents' batting average vs. lefties means Brandon Marsh and Bryson Stott won't be in the starting lineup.

"We're just gelling and playing good baseball," Castellanos said. "We're showing up every day with the intent to win. Guys are doing a great job of not taking something bad that has happened in the game and letting it affect them later on. We're playing pretty complete baseball, we're pitching well, competing at the plate well. I think we've cleaned up our baserunning as of late.

"We're just a really good baseball team. So now the trick is just to stay consistent and stay healthy."

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