Harper homers, Wheeler K's 8 in Phillies' win over Rockies

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Zack Wheeler steadied the slumping Phillies with eight strikeouts and Bryce Harper homered to lead Philadelphia to a 6-1 win over the Colorado Rockies on Saturday night.

Odubel Herrera’s two-RBI bunt double and Jean Segura’s solo homer helped the Phillies snap a four-game losing streak that had them fading from the NL East playoff race. The Phillies entered 4 1/2 games behind first-place Atlanta in the NL East.

Harper and manager Joe Girardi both expressed their dissatisfaction after the Phillies were blown out 11-2 on Friday night. Harper said he was embarrassed by Philadelphia’s performance. Girardi was short in his comments but noted he was “not happy” with his team.

The Phillies are going to need more games like Saturday -- lots more, fast -- to have any chance at catching the Braves.

Harper continued to prove he’ll need to carry the Phillies and circled the bases to “MVP! MVP!” chants when he hit his 31st homer of the season in the seventh. Harper ended the eighth when his relay throw to Segura nailed C.J Cron at the plate.

It helps when Wheeler (13-9) is on the mound.

Wheeler, who reached 1,000 career strikeouts, won his third straight start and tossed at least six innings in his 11th straight start. He left with the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh.

Jose Alvarado retired Charlie Blackmon on a grounder to end the threat.

The Phillies loaded the bases against Kyle Freeland (5-8) in the fourth and the lefty forced in a run on a walk. Herrera then beat the Rockies’ shift with a bunt down third that rolled so far down the line, the speedy outfielder landed on second with a double and a 3-0 lead.

Segura homered in the fifth.

It looked as if the Phillies were in good shape to make up ground on Atlanta when they began a stretch on Thursday of 14 of 17 games at home against teams that were a combined 113 games under .500. But Colorado followed Thursdays 4-3, ninth-inning comeback victory with a romp.

The Phillies’ frustration was on display Friday when Brad Miller slammed his bat into a dugout rack six times after being called out on strikes. On Saturday, he hit his third career pinch-hit homer in the seventh for a 5-1 lead.

Girardi said before the game the Phillies were running out of time.

“It’s not like we have months and months of games,” he said. “This is the time of the year you play the best baseball. Those are the teams that are in the playoffs. And we have not played well in the past 10 games.”

No. 11 was good enough.

STORY TIME

Rockies shortstop Trevor Story made the play of the game when he robbed Segura of a hit. Story dove to his left and snagged the hard grounder with his outstretched glove, sat on his behind and nailed a one-hop throw to get Segura.

Story then spoiled Wheeler’s shutout bid in the sixth when he crushed his 21st homer of the season into the second deck. The hard-swinging, smooth-fielding shortstop is in the last year of his deal and appears in line for a hefty payday.

VELASQUEZ GONE

The Phillies designated RHP Vince Velasquez for assignment. Velasquez went 30-40 with a 4.93 ERA and made 116 starts over six seasons with the Phillies. His lone winning season came when he went 8-6 in 2016.

“We just felt it was the move to do. We are going more with the bullpen game than the fifth starter,” Girardi said. “We needed relievers in those situations.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Rockies: LF Sam Hilliard left the game in the third inning after he was by a pitch in the elbow. Raimel Tapia replaced him. Tapia was ejected for arguing balls and strikes in the seventh.

Phillies: Reinstated OF Matt Joyce off the 60-day IL and recalled OF Mickey Moniak and RHP Adonis Medina from Triple-A Lehigh Valley. RHP’s Enyel De Los Santos and Ramón Rosso were optioned to Lehigh Valley. OF Travis Jankowski was placed on the 10-day IL (right foot contusion).

REMEMBERING 9/11

Larry Bowa, who managed the Phillies in 2001, caught the ceremonial first pitch and led this year’s team out of the dugout for the national anthem.

UP NEXT

The Phillies send struggling RHP Aaron Nola (7-8, 4.57 ERA to the mound against Colorado RHP Ryan Feltner (0-1, 20.25).

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More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Dan Gelston, The Associated Press

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