Nick Williams (R) hit the first grand slam of his career. It proved to be the difference in the Philadelphia Phillies' 5-2 victory over the Brewers at Miller Park. Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Phillies/Twitter
MILWAUKEE -- Nick Williams had a brief moment of deja vu as he stepped into the batter's box to face Milwaukee Brewers left-hander Tyler Webb with the bases loaded in the sixth inning on Sunday afternoon at Miller Park.
"I don't think I had a lot of success against him last year, but I remember I faced him this year," said Williams, referring to their time in the minor leagues earlier this season. "He threw me a first-pitch slider and I hit a homer. I remembered that."
When the two met again Sunday, the pitch and result were exactly the same except this time both were in the big leagues and the home run was a grand slam, the first of Williams' career. It proved to be the difference in the Philadelphia Phillies' 5-2 victory over the Brewers at Miller Park.
"It was a good win for us," said Phillies manager Pete Mackanin, whose team avoided a three-game sweep at the hands of the National League Central-leading Brewers.
The slider was the first pitch that Webb had thrown since joining the Brewers during the All-Star break after a trade with the New York Yankees. It was an inauspicious debut for Webb, who was added to bolster Milwaukee's bullpen for a potential playoff run.
"It was a good matchup for him," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "He threw a breaking ball in the strike zone and the guy put a good swing on it."
Rob Scahill (1-3) got off to a rough start in the sixth, allowing three straight singles to load the bases. Counsell then turned to Webb to face the left-handed-hitting Williams, who singled earlier in the game.
"It just wasn't a good enough pitch," Webb said. "Especially with runners in scoring position like that, you have to have all of your pitches working the right way. Unfortunately, I didn't and they came out on top."
The sixth-inning meltdown spoiled an effective five-inning effort from Brewers starter Matt Garza, who was charged with just one run, three hits and three walks with a strikeout.
The only blemish on his line was a ground-rule RBI double by Odubel Herrera that gave Philadelphia a 1-0 lead in the third. He had only thrown 71 pitches, but when Orlando Arcia reached on a two-out single in the bottom of the inning, Counsell opted to pinch-hit Brett Phillips.
"It's tough to come out of a game, but it's not my call," Garza said. "You try and do your part and keep your team in a position to strike. I would have liked to stay out there, but it was the right call."
Counsell's gamble paid off, as the rookie launched his first career home run to right, putting the Brewers ahead 2-1.
"The home run was fun and exciting," said Phillips, who received a standing ovation and a curtain call from the crowd of 29,532. "But a win would have been a lot cooler to go along with it."
The two-run shot would be the only runs allowed by Philadelphia starter Jeremy Hellickson.
Hellickson (6-5) picked up his first victory since May 19 by holding Milwaukee to two runs, four hits and a walk while striking out seven, but he gave way after five innings because of cramping in his right calf.
"It was just like a tight cramp for a second," Hellickson said. "Just really tight. It was bothering me a little when I pushed off. It felt fine walking around and stuff like that. Just pushing off."
With Hellickson out, Philadelphia's bullpen stepped up and provided four scoreless innings.
Milwaukee brought the tying run to the plate in the eighth but came up empty. The Brewers threatened again in the ninth as Hector Neris allowed the first two batters to reach before he retired the next three in a row for his eighth save of the season.
NOTES: With OF Aaron Altherr sidelined for a second straight game with a strained right hamstring, Phillies manager Pete Mackanin moved CF Odubel Herrera into the leadoff spot. ... Phillies RHP Pat Neshek worked a scoreless seventh inning. Neshek, a likely trade candidate as the deadline nears, has not allowed a run in his last five appearances and in 39 of his 40 outings this season. ... The Brewers have hit four pinch-hit home runs this season. ... Milwaukee's loss, paired with a third consecutive victory by the Chicago Cubs on Sunday, trimmed the Brewers' lead over the National League Central to 4 1/2 games.