By Sam Bush
Carlos Santana had three hits and five RBIs, Nick Pivetta struck out seven in five scoreless innings and the Phillies beat the Giants 11-3 to remain half a game behind the Braves for the NL East lead.
The Phillies, who are 20-11 since a 1-4 start, will try to sweep the four-game series this afternoon.
Santana raised his batting average to .191 and tied a career best with the five RBIs. He has struggled in his first season with the Phillies after signing a $60 million, three-year contract. But manager Gabe Kapler never lost confidence in the slugger because he was hitting the ball hard.
”It’s huge to see Carlos break out and get some breaks,” Kapler said. ”We knew if he continued to strike the ball with authority, the ball is going to fall. We never had a doubt.”
Pivetta (2-2) bounced back from an awful start against the Nationals in which he lasted only one inning and allowed six runs. He scattered four hits and didn’t walk anyone.
Giants starter Chris Stratton (3-3) gave up five runs and five hits in 4 2/3 innings.
Santana ripped an RBI double to right field in the first inning and scored on Maikel Franco’s single to left. Franco drove his seventh homer to deep left-center for a 3-0 lead in the fourth.
”He’s crushing the ball,” Kapler said. ”It’s nice to see his bat come alive the last couple weeks.”
Santana’s two-run single in the fifth made it 5-0. He added another two-run single during a six-run sixth against San Francisco’s bullpen.
”I just try to focus and make contact,” he said. ”It’s been a big difference.”
The Phillies have outscored the Giants 26-5 in the first three games. San Francisco had won four in a row and seven of eight before coming to Philly.