ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Taijuan Walker overcome early struggles to win his sixth consecutive start and the Philadelphia Phillies extended their road winning streak to 11 games with an 8-4 victory over the AL-leading Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday night.
It’s the third-longest road winning streak in Phillies history, trailing a 13-game run in 1976 and 12-game stretch that spanned the 1887 and ’88 seasons.
Tampa Bay has lost a season-high four in a row and 10 of 16 overall. After starting 30-6 at home, Tampa Bay has dropped six of 10.
Walker (10-3) allowed four runs and five hits, all in the first three of his seven-inning outing. The right-hander, who had given up three runs over 32 innings in his previous five starts, walked five and struck out eight.
“It really could have been a lot worse,” Walker said. “Five walks, something I don’t want to do, especially against a team like that (can) score at will. Towards the end of the game I was able to put those shutdown innings up.”
Phillies manager Rob Thomson said with a smile that Walker was “effectively wild.”
Bryson Stott had four hits, and J.T. Realmuto and Alec Bohm each had three as Philadelphia finished with 17 hits overall. Bryce Harper went 2 for 5 in his fifth consecutive game with two hits.
The Phillies will try to sweep the three-game series Thursday night after winning 3-1 behind Aaron Nola’s 7 1/3 strong innings Tuesday night.
“Last night we got great pitching, and tonight we got really good hitting and some clutch hitting,” Thomson said.
The Phillies grabbed a 5-4 lead on Trea Turner’s leadoff homer and Stott’s RBI single in the fifth.
“They ultimately took the lead and didn’t look back,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “But a lot of good at-bats by them and you know for us on the mound we just felt like we couldn’t kind of create that swing and miss that we generally do”
Nick Castellanos, who earlier hit into a double play on an 107.7 mph grounder, extended the Phillies’ advantage to 6-4 on a 437-foot homer to center off Robert Stephenson.
Brandon Marsh made it 8-4 with a two-run single in the seventh.
Tampa Bay took a 4-3 lead on Luke Raley’s solo homer in the third.
Harper doubled and scored on Realmuto’s single off Yonny Chirinos (4-4) to pull the Phillies even at 3 in the third.
Kyle Schwarber went 0 for 6 and was the only Philadelphia position player without a hit.
Phillies: Thomson, the NL All-Star skipper, has started contacting his league counterparts. The first was Atlanta’s Brian Snitker, who managed in last year’s contest.
“I wanted to ask him a lot about the process, what was going into it,” Thomson said. “He was really good. He helped me a lot.”
Rays: OF Randy Arozarena, a Home Run Derby participant, took several rounds of rapid batting practice.
Thomson presented Rays pitcher Zach Eflin with his 2022 NL Championship ring before the game.
“(Felt) fantastic,” Thomson said. “Kind of emotional for me. He’s such a good guy. He’s such a pro on or off the field.”
The Phillies also have won 11 straight games against AL opponents. They are the first MLB team to record double-digit interleague and road winning streaks in the same season.
Phillies: Prospect Andrew Painter (right elbow) threw off a bullpen mound one day after a batting practice session was postponed due to stiffness.
Rays: Cash said ace Shane McClanahan (mid-back tightness) remains on target to return when eligible on July 16.
Phillies LHP Cristopher Sánchez (0-2) will make his fifth start of the season on Thursday night. The Rays will go with RHP Shawn Armstrong (0-0) on a bullpen day.