PHILADELPHIA (AP) — It didn’t take the Philadelphia Phillies long to display that sense of urgency Bryce Harper wanted to see.
Zach Eflin pitched into the eighth inning, J.T. Realmuto hit a two-run homer and the Phillies beat the St. Louis Cardinals 9-2 on Friday night.
After a third straight loss to the New York Mets on Wednesday, Harper was critical of himself and an offense that scored four runs in three games and twice had 14 strikeouts.
Facing Carlos Martinez, the Phillies jumped ahead 6-0 in the second with their biggest inning of the season. Nine straight batters reached safely after Martinez got the first out.
“I think it does resonate when it comes from a guy like Bryce and he’s not one to necessarily sugarcoat it,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi said. “He included himself and he had the big double and swung the bat extremely well tonight, but I like it because that sense of urgency is important because every game matters as we found out last year and teams have found out in the previous years.”
Eflin (1-0) allowed six hits, struck out six and walked none in seven-plus innings. The lanky right-hander retired 12 straight batters at one point and exited after surrendering a two-run homer to Justin Williams in the eighth.
“I have a lot of confidence in myself,” Eflin said. “I think I can go out there and compete with the best of them.”
Martinez (0-3) gave up six runs and five hits in five innings. He retired the last 11 batters he faced and tossed four perfect innings of his five.
“Just bad luck,” Martinez said. “I got a little frustrated. I have to focus on my next start.”
The Phillies scored each of their runs in the second after Realmuto struck out.
Alec Bohm and Didi Gregorius hit consecutive singles. Jean Segura followed with a…