TORONTO — Worst loss of the season?
The Phillies could not hold a five-run lead and ended up with a terrible 8-6 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday.
Aledmys Diaz, the Jays’ No. 9 hitter, clubbed a three-run double with two outs in the bottom of the eighth to give Toronto the lead.
Diaz’s bases-loaded hit came on an 0-1 slider from Victor Arano, who had come into the game with one out after Seranthony Dominguez had loaded the bases on a single, a walk and a hit batsman. Arano came in with a one-run lead and struck out the first batter he faced before Diaz’s game-changing hit.
The loss was the Phillies’ 12th in the last 18 games.
British Columbia native Nick Pivetta, pitching in his home country for the first time as a major-leaguer, struggled to protect leads all day.
Pivetta had a three-run lead in the bottom of the seventh inning. The Jays cut the lead to one run on a two-run homer by Billy McKinney with two outs.
Manager Gabe Kapler let Pivetta face the lefty-hitting McKinney even though he had lefty reliever Luis Avilan ready in the bullpen. The Phils acquired Avilan in a trade earlier in the week for just such a situation. Kapler’s decision to stick with Pivetta was one of his most questionable of the season.
The Phillies took a 1-0 lead in the third inning on consecutive singles by Roman Quinn and Cesar Hernandez and a sacrifice fly by Rhys Hoskins.
The Phils built their lead to 5-0 with four more runs in the fourth inning. They had five hits in the inning, including a two-run double by Quinn and a two-run single by Hoskins.
Pivetta went to the mound looking for a shutdown inning in the bottom of the fourth and failed to get it. He walked the leadoff batter, Justin Smoak, then hung a 2-2 curveball to Kendrys Morales who belted it over the wall in right-center to make it a 5-2 game. Morales has homered in six straight games. Pivetta gave up three more hits and a run in that inning and, at one point, received a stern mound visit from pitching coach Rick Kranitz.
Odubel Herrera beat out a potential double-play ball to keep the top of the fifth inning alive and the Phils capitalized with a run on a base hit by Jorge Alfaro.
Alfaro’s hit gave Pivetta a three-run lead heading to the bottom of the fifth and this time he got his shutdown inning. Two of them, in fact. He retired the Jays in order in the fifth and sixth before giving up a leadoff double in the bottom of the seventh. Two batters after Danny Jansen’s double in the seventh, Pivetta served up a two-run homer to McKinney on a first-pitch fastball.
After McKinney’s homer, the Pivetta walked the next batter and Kapler went to his bullpen for the lefty-hitting Smoak. Dominguez got the call and struck out Smoak to end the inning. All hell broke loose the next inning.