By Sam Bush
Vinny Velasquez is back!
The Phillies’ right-hander, who lit up the sky two years ago before injuries brought him back to earth, pitched shutout ball into the seventh inning, in the Phillies’ 6-2 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.
Velasquez (4-4) gave up five hits in 6 1/3 innings, struck out five and walked two in recording his third straight win.
“I’m just having a different mentality going into the game,” Velasquez said. “I feel like I’m going into a comfort zone of my own. That’s something you’ve got to have and cherish. And build on.”
Velasquez is 3-0 with a 2.08 ERA over his last three starts. He has struck out 21 over 17 1/3 innings.
The three strong outings are in stark contrast to two rough efforts on April 24 and 29 when he gave up a total of 10 earned runs over 8 1/3 innings.
“It’s just starting to come together for him,” Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said. “We’re trying to figure out what we see in Vinnie that leads to this kind of success. I guess it doesn’t really matter. As long as he’s having it.”
Velasquez began the season by dropping four of his first five decisions.
“A lot of obstacles are thrown at you and you’ve just got to learn to adjust,” Velasquez said. “That’s the whole part of this game is making adjustments. And it seems like things are turning around.”
The Phillies won for the seventh time in eight games and improved to 17-2 against opponents outside of the NL East.
At 25-16, the Phillies are nine games over .500 for the first time since they were 102-60 at the close of the 2011 season. Philadelphia is 24-12 since starting the season 1-4.
Odubel Herrera reached base three times to extend his on-base streak to 43 games, fifth-longest in franchise history.
“I don’t pay attention to that,” Herrera said of the streak. “I’m just trying to play hard, get on base and do what I can do.”
Herrera is 13 games shy of Mike Schmidt’s club record of 56 set in 1981-82.
Santana broke a scoreless tie by slugging a 437-foot drive to center — his team-leading eighth — in the fifth off Luke Weaver (3-3), who gave up one run and four hits over seven innings. Weaver struck out six and walked one for St. Louis, which has lost four of five.
“I took a lot out of this outing,” Weaver said. “This is baseball, games like this happen. The other pitcher threw really well and we just had a hard time picking him up.”
Aaron Altherr drove in a pair of runs with a bases-loaded single in the eighth that pushed the Phillies’ lead to 3-0. He snapped an 0-for-13 skid with the hit. Herrera’s RBI double made it 4-0.
St. Louis cut the deficit in half in the bottom of the eighth on Marcell Ozuna’s run-scoring fielder’s choice and Jedd Gyorko’s RBI single.
Florimon hit a two-run homer in the ninth off reliever John Brebbia.
St. Louis catcher Francisco Pena had three of his team’s 10 hits.
“I was seeing the ball pretty well today,” Pena said. “We’re trying to get a W, and we didn’t do it today.”