By Sam Bush
The Phillies are learning that Jake Arrieta is an up-and-down starter, much as he was last season after he signed a $75 million, three-year deal.
Gio Gonzalez (2-0) allowed one run while pitching into the sixth inning as the Brewers beat the Phillies 5-2.
He did enough to again reward the Brewers’ faith in bringing him back. Gonzalez finished last year with Milwaukee, going 3-0 in five starts down the stretch, and the Brewers made it to the NL Championship Series. But he was a free agent until he signed a minor league contract with the Yankees in March. After opting out of his deal with New York, he returned to a Milwaukee team in need of some rotation help.
Jesus Aguilar ripped a two-run single off Arrieta (4-4) in the third to give the Brewers a 4-1 lead and they hung on to take two of the first three games of this four-game set between NL teams with playoff aspirations. Josh Hadertossed a scoreless ninth for his 11th save.
“With Hader doing what he does late in the game, it was just a little too late for us to get it going,” Arrieta said.
Bryce Harper lined a double to left field and made a sliding catch in right a day after he banged his left knee into the wall on a sliding catch. Harper, who signed a $330 million, 13-year contract with the Phillies as a free agent, has been slumping and struck out for the 57th time. His double snapped an 0-for-15 funk that earned him some mild boos from Phillies fans who have been wild for the All-Star since the day he signed.
Phils manager Gabe Kapler said he never considered giving Harper the day off.
“I don’t have a tangible reason why we shouldn’t play him,” Kapler said. “We think he gives us our best chance to win tonight. We think he will be positively impacted by being in tonight’s lineup. We’ll consider it on a day-to-day basis. He and I will have those conversations.”
Harper’s arrival was just the biggest one in an offseason full of All-Star acquisitions for the Phillies. Two others were also in the middle of the action Wednesday. Jean Segura hit a solo homer in the first inning, but outfielder Andrew McCutchen misplayed a deep drive on the warning track in the fifth and the ball glanced off his glove for an error.
Arrieta was bailed out of that miscue by a sensational, barehand throw from third baseman Sean Rodriguez to nail Keston Hiura at first.
“I just didn’t necessarily do my job tonight,” Arrieta said.