Phillies cleaning house, host Cardinals

PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Phillies' front office finally decided to do something about the way the 2017 season was going.

With the ballclub mired in a two-month slump and possessing the worst record in baseball heading into Wednesday's game against the St. Louis Cardinals, it was only a matter of time before the roster started changing.

"When you have the worst record in baseball, it's safe to say things haven't gone exactly as planned," Philadelphia general manager Matt Klentak said before Tuesday night's game. "Whether we're winning or we're losing, we're always going to be looking at potential roster moves to make us better. In this case, we're trying to get out of the basement."

Gone from the Phillies (22-47) are a pair of struggling veterans, reliever Jeanmar Gomez and outfielder Michael Saunders who were designed for assignment on Tuesday.

Gomez, who saved 37 games last year, struggled out of the gate with a 9.64 ERA in April and lost his closer's gig. He had a 7.25 ERA in 18 appearances by the time of his release.

Saunders, brought on in the offseason as a veteran bat, hit .205 in 200 at-bats.

To replace them are a pair of first-time big leaguers, called up from Triple-A Lehigh Valley just a few hours before the St. Louis Cardinals (32-37) came away with an 8-1 victory in 11 innings Tuesday.

Left-hander Hoby Milner had a 2.60 ERA in 22 appearances with the Iron Pigs, striking out 27 against four walks. Outfielder Cameron Perkins was batting .298 with six home runs, 21 RBI and 17 doubles.

They were selected by the Phillies in the 2012 draft -- Perkins in the sixth round, Milner in the seventh.

"I do think bringing up young players can have a positive effect on teams sometimes, not to put all the pressure on the two guys we just called up," Klentak said. "But injecting some new life into a team could be helpful. But we'll see."

Perkins made his debut by flying out as a pinch hitter in the 10th inning Tuesday.

Wednesday's starter is another Phillie who's new to the big leagues. Right-hander Nick Pivetta makes his eighth career start and first against the Cardinals, but is coming off his best outing yet.

Pivetta (1-3, 4.46 ERA) lasted a career-best seven innings against Boston on Thursday, limiting the potent Red Sox to four hits while receiving a no-decision as the Phillies captured a 1-0 victory against Boston ace Chris Sale.

It was the first time Pivetta had gone past the fifth inning.

"He just pounded the strike zone," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin told the Press of Atlantic City. "He didn't get in trouble and start nitpicking."

Pivetta will be opposed by St. Louis right-hander Michael Wacha (3-3, 4.78), who will be facing the Phillies for the second time this season and fifth time in his career. After holding Philadelphia to five hits and two runs in six innings to pick up a win June 9, Wacha is now 2-2 with a 4.38 ERA against the Phillies.

His last time out was less successful, giving up four runs and seven hits in four innings, though he avoided the decision in a 6-4 loss to the Brewers on Thursday.

"Just didn't have the best command of the stuff tonight and far too many mistakes," he told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch after that game. "I've just got to get back to throwing downhill, getting that downhill plane, throwing at the knees and working the other pitches off of that and I think that's where I'm the best."
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