6/21/2014 9:22 P.M. ET
Phillies sparked by bullpen's strong performance
By Alex Halsted / MLB.com
ST. LOUIS -- It has been no coincidence that the Phillies bullpen has been peaking in recent weeks right as the team has begun to gain ground on returning to .500.
Since June 3, the Phillies have the best bullpen ERA in the Majors (1.16), allowing five runs in 38 2/3 innings of work over that span. That production has given Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg options.
"First of all, it's important to use all of them, use the whole bullpen to keep them all fresh and ready to go and get their rest when due," Sandberg said. "When other guys are pitching well, they can pick each other up. The way I view it is they're doing it as a unit down there and they're doing it as a group."
The success has started with veteran closer Jonathan Papelbon. The five-time All-Star has a 1.53 ERA this season in 30 games, which is shaping up to be his best since he ended the 2009 season in Boston with a 1.85 ERA.
During the month of June, Papelbon has allowed one run in eight innings and has closed out four of five save opportunities.
"It helps to be doing well and have that trickle down, no question about it," Sandberg said. "Especially from a closer role and a veteran guy, that works hand in hand."
The Phillies bullpen entered Saturday allowing opponents to hit just .150 in the last 17 games, also a top mark among Major League bullpens during that span.
Sandberg said Papelbon has been a key influence in the bullpen, talking with relievers during the game and going through at-bats. That has begun to translate on the mound.
"He's also about helping the other players, I've learned that about him, especially this year," Sandberg said. "He likes to have them think they're a unit themselves down there as a group. Everybody do it together, everybody do their job and everyone be accountable for themselves."
Rollins' hitting streak comprised of 15 one-hit games
ST. LOUIS -- Jimmy Rollins has a 38-game hitting streak to his fame, but the one he currently finds himself in the middle of may be just as rare.
With a hard single off the glove of Cardinals first baseman Matt Adams in the eighth inning of a 4-1 loss Saturday, Rollins upped his current hitting streak to 15 games.
The rarity does not rest with the length, but rather the fashion in which it has come. Rollins has reached his streak with exactly one hit in each game (15-for-60).
A few interesting tidbits about the streak:
• Rollins is one hit away from the matching the longest hitting streak of only single-hit games since 1900, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The mark was set by Cardinals infielder Ted Sizemore in 1975 when he had 16 consecutive one-hit games.
• Rollins has already set the Phillies franchise record for the longest streak of one-hit games, passing Michael Young (2013) and Fred Luderus (1917). Each had one hit in 12 straight games.
• It is Rollins' longest hitting streak since his 2007 National League MVP season, when he had a 14-game streak.
• The 15-game hitting streak is the third-longest active streak in the Majors and is the longest by a Phillies player this season (that previously was 11 games by Chase Utley). Braves catcher Evan Gattis currently has the longest active hitting streak in the Majors at 20 games after reaching base Saturday.
• Ben Revere, for the fifth straight game, was out of the Phillies starting lineup Saturday. He banged his knee into the wall Monday in Atlanta and has made just two pinch-hitting appearances since. Revere said Friday he is waiting for the swelling to fully flush out to regain his step.
• Third baseman Reid Brignac was in a walking boot Saturday, stabilizing his ankle. Brignac sustained a high ankle sprain Thursday when he slid into first base. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Friday.
Alex Halsted is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.