SAN FRANCISCO — Remember a few nights ago at Dodger Stadium when Rhys Hoskins’ hitless streak reached 33 consecutive at-bats, a career-long drought that felt almost bottomless?
It’s not a stretch to say the Phillies may be winless on the West Coast without him.
Aaron Nola gave up six runs and got only seven outs Saturday in the shortest — and arguably the worst — outing of his 154-start career. It could have gotten ugly early for the Phillies after a sloppy loss to Gabe Kapler’s Giants in the series opener Friday night.
But along came Hoskins to slug a two-run homer in the second inning, an RBI double in the sixth, and a three-run shot in the seventh, totaling a career-high six RBIs and powering a 13-6 victory that evened the Phillies’ record at .500 for the 14th time in 68 games. It also kept them from slipping another game behind the division-leading New York Mets and gave them a chance for a series victory Sunday and a split of the six-game California trip.
“This type of game is always fun,” said Hoskins, who grew up a few hours away near Sacramento and was playing in front of family and friends. “It seemed like everybody got in on the fun, too. The offense seems to be creating a little bit of momentum and being a little bit more consistent.”
The teams duked it out like a couple of punch-drunk boxers for three innings against Nola and Giants starter Alex Wood before the bullpens quieted things. And the Phillies grabbed a 7-6 lead in the sixth inning with a home run from an unlikely power source: Ronald Torreyes, who took Giants lefty Jarlin García deep to lead off the sixth inning, the sixth homer of his major-league career.
Once again, though, the biggest hits came from Hoskins, as they have for most of the season.
For every scorching-hot streak, Hoskins seems to go through an icy-cold spell, extreme steaks that test the patience of fans who crave more consistency. But in a season in which Bryce Harper has only 18 RBIs, J.T. Realmuto has played through nagging injuries, and Didi Gregorius has been out since May 12 with a swollen elbow, Hoskins has delivered many of the Phillies’ clutch moments.
“We lost kind of a tough game [Friday] night, and Rhys has a big game, gets us going right away again,” manager Joe Girardi. “It’s great to see. He’s had a real knack for it. It’s been really important to our club.”
To wit: After the Phillies dropped the first two games of this trip in Los Angeles, Hoskins broke out of his slump by hitting a first-inning homer against Clayton Kershaw on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium to give Zack Wheeler a lead en route to a 2-0 victory.
It was surely a cathartic moment for Hoskins. But it was an at-bat later in the game Wednesday night, a lineout to right field against Dodgers reliever David Price, that signaled to Hoskins that his swing was back where he wanted it.
“I was able to stay on a changeup,” Hoskins said. “That’s usually a pretty good sign that the swing is in the right position if I can stay back on a changeup and drive it to right field. I was able to do that again [Friday] to kind of reinforce that feeling, and put some good swings on balls today and was able to barrel balls up.”
Hoskins’ second-inning homer off Wood proved to be well-timed. Nola allowed a two-run shot to Mike Yastrzemski to give the Giants a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the first. But Hoskins put the Phillies back on top, even if Nola couldn’t hold the lead.
Three batters after Torreyes’ homer, Hoskins’ double opened an 8-6 lead. And his homer in the seventh inning broke open the game.
“When Rhys gets hot, he can get hot,” Nola said. “It’s cool to see because he works so hard at it. When he’s not hot, you know it’s going to turn around and he’s going to break loose. You saw it today. He had a big game today.”
Nola struggles again
After Nola shut out the Yankees for 7⅔ innings at home last Sunday, the Phillies hoped he made mechanical adjustments to get back on track. But he wasn’t sharp from the outset, and the Giants hit almost everything that he threw.
Yastrzemski’s homer came on a fastball. LaMonte Wade Jr. ripped a two-run double in the second inning on a full-count cutter. Brandon Belt led off the third inning by homering on a full-count curveball.
In lasting only 2⅓ innings, Nola eclipsed a 2⅔-inning start against the Atlanta Braves last Aug. 21 for the shortest start of his career.
“I was pulling fastballs, which is kind of a recipe for disaster, which it was,” Nola said. “They put some good swings on pitches they should’ve. Leadoff guy on every inning, which always hurts.”
But the bullpen shut down the Giants from there. Ranger Suárez, Connor Brogdon, José Alvarado, Archie Bradley, and David Hale passed the baton for 6⅔ innings without allowing a run. Suárez, in particular, was sharp, allowing one hit and one walk in 2⅔ innings after coming in for Nola.
Torreyes goes deep
Before his tiebreaking homer, Torreyes notched an RBI double in the Phillies’ three-run second inning.
Torreyes has at least one hit in 15 of 23 games since returning from the COVID-19 restricted list last month. He’s 21-for-74 (.284) with a .759 OPS during that time, more than Phillies could have asked from the primary fill-in for injured Gregorius.
“He’s been a spark plug,” Hoskins said. “He also seems to be getting a lot of big hits. He’s playing incredible defense at short. Made a couple really good plays today.”
Zach Eflin (2-5, 3.99 ERA) will start on regular rest for the Phillies in the series finale. The Giants will counter by using rookie left-hander Sammy Long (0-0, 5.00 ERA) as an opener.