Struggling Nick Pivetta gets start for Phillies vs. Giants

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Nick Pivetta (43) is taken out by manager Gabe Kapler (22) in the second inning against the Washington Nationals on May 4 at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

By Stephen Pianovich, The Sports XchangeUPI

Nick Pivetta’s promising start to the 2018 season has been derailed in his last two starts. The right-hander will try to get back on track Wednesday as the Philadelphia Phillies host the San Francisco Giants for a 7:05 p.m. ET start at Citizens Bank Park.

Pivetta’s ERA has gone up by more than two runs in his last pair of starts. His latest outing was the shortest of his professional career.

Pivetta (1-2, 4.76 ERA) allowed six runs on five hits and three walks in only one inning against the Washington Nationals last Friday. Pivetta gave up two home runs in the start and needed 46 pitches to get three outs.

“I just look at this as a bad day at work,” Pivetta told MLB.com after the Phillies’ 7-3 loss. “That’s what happened. It wasn’t a good day. It wasn’t my best. … I’m going to be fine. I’ve been through it before. It’s part of it. I’ll work hard and get back at it. I’ll start in five days and it’ll be fun.”

A second-year major leaguer, Pivetta had a four-start stretch in April when he posted a 1.88 ERA and held opposing hitters to a .216 batting average and a .526 OPS. But he’s allowed 11 hits and six walks over this last two starts, and his season ERA has ballooned to 4.76 from 2.57.

Pivetta, who has never faced the Giants, will be looking for a bounce-back start. That’s exactly what Chris Stratton, the Giants’ starter on Wednesday, had in his last appearance.

Stratton (3-2, 3.99) went six innings and allowed three runs on six hits in a San Francisco win against the Atlanta Braves last Friday. In his previous start, Stratton surrendered six runs on six hits and four walks in just 1 1/3 innings against the Dodgers.

“You know, (the Braves have) been hot lately, so it was nice to come in and get a huge win for us,” Stratton said to MLB.com after cooling off a Braves offense that had scored 31 runs in its previous four games.

Stratton has never faced the Phillies in his 27 big league appearances, 17 of which have been starts.

He’ll try to keep the ball in the park against a Phillies team that has hit seven home runs in the first two games of the series. Aaron Altherr, Jorge Alfaro and Carlos Santana all hit solo home runs in the Phillies’ 4-2 victory on Tuesday night.

The Giants need wins in their final two games in Philadelphia to ensure they don’t drop their first series since losing two of three against the Arizona Diamondbacks from April 17-19. The Giants, who are 9-10 on the road this season, have won each of their last five series.

The Phillies, meanwhile, are looking for their first series win in five tries. They improved to 13-5 at home and 20-15 on the season in Tuesday night’s win. Philadelphia did not win its 20th game of the 2017 season until June 5.