Phillies

Phillies

BOX SCORE

PHOENIX -- The Phillies lost for the 50th time in 74 games Sunday afternoon when the Arizona Diamondbacks pushed across a run in the bottom of the 11th inning to score a 2-1 decision under the roof at Chase Field.

After the loss, manager Pete Mackanin praised his team, the worst in baseball, for playing so many opponents tough lately. On the surface, that sounded like a hollow platitude, but the analytics show that Mackanin is right. Sunday's loss was the Phillies' sixth extra-innings defeat in the last two weeks.

It was their majors-high eighth walk-off loss of the season (see Instant Replay).

"Once again, not enough offense," Mackanin said. "But we've been playing teams tough."

Starting pitching, for the most part, has kept the Phillies in games lately.

That was the reason they were in Sunday's game.

Jeremy Hellickson enjoyed his second straight strong outing. He pitched three-hit, one-run ball over six walk-free innings and struck out seven.

That was the most important development of the day because the Phillies need Hellickson to make a little trade-deadline push if they're going to get a piece to add to their rebuild for him. After a poor May and a tough start to June, Hellickson is trending in the right direction. Over his last two starts, he has allowed just two runs and two walks in 13 innings. His command is back. He's working the lowest reaches of the strike zone and getting outs with his changeup.

 

If he keeps this up, he will escape baseball's worst club for a pennant race.

Hellickson, a free agent at season's end, laughed when that thought was presented to him.

"Let’s just keep pitching like this and see what happens," he said. "Like I’ve told you guys, I want to be here. We’ll see."

But wouldn't it be nice to have a chance to go to the World Series?

"Yeah, absolutely," he said. "But at the same time, I think we’re not that far off with the guys we have coming up. I think if we just stayed healthy this year it would be a lot better. Yeah, I would like to be here for when things turn around, but at the same time it’s always fun to play in October."

The only run that Hellickson gave up Sunday came with no outs in the fourth inning when Nick Ahmed doubled and scored on a single by Paul Goldschmidt. That run might not have scored had leftfielder Cameron Perkins been quicker to the ball, but Ahmed at one point looked like he was going to stop and Perkins wanted to make sure he hit the cutoff man to keep Goldschmidt anchored at first.

Mackanin acknowledged that was a big play.

He also acknowledged that Maikel Franco's getting picked off second base after a leadoff double in the second inning was big.

Big, as in damaging.

"Big play, but you know what?" Mackanin said. "How many runs did we score? All those things matter, but we have to put some crooked numbers up and we haven't been doing it."

The Phils have scored just three runs in losing the last two days to Arizona, and two of those runs came on a grip-and-rip home run by pitcher Ben Lively. The Phils went 6 2/3 innings before scoring in this one. Howie Kendrick plated the run with a bloop, pinch-hit single down the right-field line with two outs in the top of the seventh. The Phillies left a runner on third base in the fifth and sixth innings.

The bullpen — particularly Luis Garcia with two scoreless innings — did a good job keeping the game tied until Edubray Ramos allowed a two-out single to Goldschmidt and a 12-pitch walk to Chris Owings, setting up Daniel Descalso for the game-winning hit, a ground ball between first and second, in the 11th.

The loss left the Phillies at 24-50 overall and 10-30 on the road.