ST. LOUIS — It had been quite a while since the Phillies played a game this ugly. They made three errors, walked five batters (in the first six innings) and threw three wild pitches in a 12-4 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals at rainy Busch Stadium on Friday night (see first take).
The loss denied the Phillies, winners of eight of their previous 10 games, a chance to move ahead of Atlanta into first place in the NL East.
“You’re not going to play perfect baseball every night,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “This was not our best game by any stretch and we can always do a better job. Sleep fast and come back tomorrow ready to play again.”
The start of the game was delayed one hour, 35 minutes by rain and did not end until 12:16 a.m. local time, 13 hours before the teams are scheduled to play again Saturday afternoon.
Something to keep an eye on leading up to Saturday’s game: catcher Jorge Alfaro left Friday night’s game after twisting his right knee while retrieving a wild pitch in the fourth inning.
“He’s OK,” Kapler said. “He’s got some right knee soreness, but he’s going to be just fine. That was precautionary. It was messy conditions out there. We just wanted to get him out of there to be cautious.”
Despite Kapler’s optimism, Alfaro’s condition bears watching.
Starting pitcher Jake Arrieta also made an early departure. He lasted just three innings. He gave up four runs (two unearned) in a 37-pitch third inning.
“That’s a really long inning for a starter,” Kapler said. “Our goal is always to protect Jake, especially Jake, long term, and others. It’s just a move to think about his long-term well being and strength. I felt like it was the right move for him and our club to get him out of there. We expect him to be pitching for us in September and October, so we want to look out for him.”
Coming into the game, Phillies starters had given up just eight runs in 62 1/3 innings over the previous 10 games.
“It’s just one to forget, really,” Arrieta said. “A couple things happened here and there but I still had a chance to make a pitch. I didn’t do my job of establishing strikes early and that makes it harder for the guys who come in after me. Tough conditions, delay, but you can’t use that as an excuse because those guys have to deal with the same circumstances. Just one to forget.”
The Phillies used four pitchers. The only one not to give up runs was the guy who started at shortstop — Pedro Florimon. He got three outs in the bottom of the eighth then homered in the top of the ninth. Florimon had not homered in the majors since September 2013 before hitting one Thursday night. Now he has two in as many nights.
Kapler called Florimon an inspiration to the team.
“I walked over to him and said, ‘Flo, I’d really like you to pitch this inning for us,’ and he said, 'Absolutely, I got you,'" Kapler said. "Then he went out and hit a big bomb for us. He’s been the consummate professional and teammate all season long and he’s played well for us. Really proud of Florimon.”
After the game, the Phillies sent reliever Yacksel Rios to Triple A. Reliever Victor Arano could be added from the disabled list Saturday.