PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Rhys Hoskins did more with less.
The slumping slugger doubled, tripled and drove in a run as the Philadelphia Phillies got 17 hits in a 12-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday night.
Hoskins has been struggling mightily at the plate this month and made a game-changing error in the ninth inning of Philadelphia’s 5-4 loss Tuesday night. Phillies manager Gabe Kapler considered giving Hoskins a day off Wednesday before putting him in the cleanup spot — and it paid off.
“It looked like Rhys had a lot of weight lifted off his shoulders,” Kapler said.
Hoskins, who entered in a 2-for-20 slide, said he swung at “80 percent” effort in an attempt to control the barrel of his bat better.
“I throttled down even more than usual and it got me back to where I wanted to be,” he said.
Every position player who started for the Phillies finished with at least one hit and RBI.
J.T. Realmuto had three hits and a home run, Cesar Hernandez added three hits and three RBIs, and Corey Dickerson also went deep. Philadelphia remained two games behind the Chicago Cubs for the second NL wild card.
“We attacked from the get-go and never let off the gas,” Hoskins said.
Starling Marte homered and had three hits for Pittsburgh, and Josh Bell hit a two-run shot.
Pirates rookie Bryan Reynolds, who began the day leading the NL in batting, went 0 for 3 to snap his seven-game hitting streak and drop his average to .330.
Vince Velasquez (6-7) bounced back from a forgettable outing last time out, going five innings and allowing two runs on five hits with five strikeouts and no walks. Velasquez coughed up a 7-0 lead in the third inning of Philadelphia’s 19-11 loss at Miami last Friday.
Kapler didn’t give Velasquez the opportunity to blow a lead this time, lifting the right-hander for a pinch-hitter in the fifth even though he had thrown only 75 pitches.
“I knew I needed to make an impact,” Velasquez said. “Today was a pretty important game for me and the team in general.”
Mitch Keller (1-3), a 23-year-old rookie making his seventh career start, pitched into the fifth for Pittsburgh and gave up eight runs on 11 hits with eight strikeouts and a walk.
The Phillies did damage against the 2014 second-round pick in the fifth when Keller didn’t get an out while facing six batters, five of whom scored. Dickerson started the inning with an opposite-field homer to left. Realmuto followed with a triple and scored on Bryce Harper’s single. After a walk to Hoskins and an infield single by Jean Segura, Hernandez ended Keller’s night with a two-run single.
“The overall effect of execution of pitches caught up to him,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “Mix wasn’t sharp.”
All told, Philadelphia tallied five runs on five hits in the inning to go up 8-2.
Marte led off the sixth by crushing a long homer to left, but Realmuto answered in the bottom half with a drive to left of his own.
Bell hit a two-run drive to the opposite field in left in the fourth, giving him 34 homers and 106 RBIs. Bell began the day second in the NL in RBIs, one behind Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman.
Realmuto finished the three-game set 8 for 15 with a double, triple and homer.
Marte has reached base safely in all 19 career games in Philadelphia, batting .375 (27 for 72) with nine doubles, three homers and 10 RBIs.
Pirates: Open a four-game set Thursday night at Colorado with RHP Trevor Williams (6-6, 5.35 ERA) facing Rockies RHP Chi Chi Gonzalez (0-5, 6.43).
Phillies: After an off day, begin a three-game home series Friday against the Mets with Philadelphia RHP Aaron Nola (12-4, 3.53 ERA) opposing RHP Zack Wheeler (9-7, 4.46).