Phillies

Marlins 2, Phillies 1: Aaron Nola strikes out 10 but Phillies lose fifth straight game

Marlins 2, Phillies 1: Aaron Nola strikes out 10 but Phillies lose fifth straight game

BOX SCORE 

Aaron Nola delivered but the offense did not.

The Phillies’ spiral continued Friday night in a 2-1 loss to the Miami Marlins at Citizens Bank Park. A sellout crowd of 44,420 was on hand for a retirement celebration honoring Chase Utley.

The loss was the Phillies’ 14th in the last 20 games as they fell to 39-36. They remained 4 ½ games behind first-place Atlanta. The Braves lost to Washington on Friday night. The third-place Nationals are suddenly just two games behind the Phillies in the NL East.

Nola pitched very well but received little run support.

The Phillies have lost seven of their last eight games. They have scored two or fewer runs in five of those losses.

Nola’s night

He went eight innings and gave up just two runs, one of which was unearned. He scattered six hits, walked one and struck out 10.

It’s hard to win when your team scores just one run, however.

With little run support, Nola paid a steep price for a couple of mistakes.

Mistake 1: With two outs in the second inning, he fell behind Bryan Holaday, 2-0. Holaday was sitting fastball and he got a juicy one — 92.4 mph and right down the middle. He hammered it for a solo homer.

Mistake 2: In a tie game in the sixth, Nola hit Brian Anderson with a first-pitch curveball. Anderson moved to third on a hit and scored the go-ahead run on a tapper to third base.

Costly error

Scott Kingery got the start at third base. He had a chance to cut down Anderson at the plate in the sixth inning, but could not get the handle on Cesar Puello’s slow tapper to third. Kingery was charged with an error on the play, his first of two on the night.

Bad clutch

The Phillies went just 2 for 12 with runners in scoring position. Neither of the hits produced a run.

The Phils scored their only run on a double-steal with Bryce Harper taking second and Roman Quinn scampering home in the third inning.

Some of the Phils’ missed chances included:

They loaded the bases on a single, a walk and a hit batsman with two outs in the fourth. That brought up Harper with a chance to do damage. He flied out to right field on the first pitch.

The Phils wasted a leadoff double from Rhys Hoskins in the fifth.

The Phils’ last best threat came with runners on the corners in the eighth. Lefty Jose Quijada struck out pinch-hitter Sean Rodriguez to end the threat.

Up next

The series continues on Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m. Vince Velasquez (2-4, 4.71) will face right-hander Elieser Hernandez (0-2, 3.95).

Manager Gabe Kapler talked about Velasquez’ latest opportunity to start here (see story).

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After pitching through pain in win over Nationals, Jake Arrieta believes 'the group in here can do it' for Phillies

After pitching through pain in win over Nationals, Jake Arrieta believes 'the group in here can do it' for Phillies

Behold the redemptive powers of baseball.

The Phillies got back to work Sunday afternoon, just a few short hours after blowing a late lead and losing to the Washington Nationals the night before. Maikel Franco made a damaging error in the eighth inning of that game and Hector Neris gave up a fatal two-run homer with two outs in the ninth.

This time, Franco and Neris were among the stars of the Phillies’ 4-3 win over the Nationals.

Neris got back on the horse and struck out the side in the top of the ninth inning of a tie game and Franco delivered a one-out solo homer to left in the bottom of the frame to give the Phils the walk-off win in front of a sellout crowd on Big Piece Day at Citizens Bank Park.

The home run was Franco’s 15th of the season and 100th of his career.

“It’s a beautiful thing,” said Franco, who has lost his job, regained his job and generally endured a series of ups and downs over the last couple of seasons while never losing his upbeat personality.

Manager Gabe Kapler channeled Burgess Meredith in praising Franco.

“You’re going to get punched and you’re going to fall down and you’re going to hit the mat,” Kapler said. “It’s how quickly you can get back up and how hard you hit back. Mikey had an error that hurt us yesterday. But he bounced back today. He really showed the resilience and toughness we talk about.”

Neris could be added to that list.

Jake Arrieta, too.

The right-hander made his first start since it was confirmed that he has been pitching (poor recently) with a bone spur in his elbow. Arrieta couldn’t say if it was icepick pain or toothache pain, but it hurts. He pitched through the discomfort and gave his team five innings of one-run ball and left with a lead. Ultimately, the Phils will need more than five innings from Arrieta or else it’s going to expose the bullpen. But for a team that desperately needed a win Sunday, Arrieta gave the club something to feel good about.

“I feel like from this point on it’s going to be tough each and every time I go out there, but I can deal with pain and I’m going to do the best I can to continue to go out there and give my team a chance to win every fifth day,” Arrieta said.

Arrieta’s velocity was at 93 mph early in the game and it was down to 91 by the fifth inning. He threw 88 pitches. He is not able to throw many cutters because it hurts his elbow. He believes he can get by with sinkers, curveball and changeups. He did Sunday.

“It’s going to be painful,” Arrieta said. “The good thing is I’m not going to injure it any further. I want to pitch for the guys in this clubhouse.

“To have 40,000 people in the seats and people watching you on TV and a team competing on the other side, I don’t care how painful it is, it’s always fun. 

“I think collectively everyone should realize I’m not 100 percent and I’m OK with that. I’m going to do everything I can do to be as good as I can for our team and help us shrink the margin down the stretch and hopefully get back in the race for winning the division.”

The Phillies have lost miles of ground over the last six weeks, from leading the NL East by 3 ½ games over Atlanta and 10 games over Washington to trailing both. The Phils entered Sunday 8 ½ games out of first place.

The Phils’ slide and struggles led club president Andy MacPhail to say on Friday that the team was more than one piece away from winning a World Series — he is right, by the way — and that would be reflected in the club’s conservative approach to giving up prospects in trades later this month (see story).

Arrieta did not have any qualms with what MacPhail said. He believes he shares a clubhouse with the answers to the Phillies’ problems.

"We need some more out of our starting pitchers collectively, but I believe we can do it,” Arrieta said. “You look at the way we started the season. We were winning a ton of games really consistently. I think the group in here can do it. We just need more productivity out of some of our guys. It’s plain and simple. It’s easy to always look outside for the solution. It might be cliché, but we have the guys here that can continue to win on a consistent basis. We just need to perform and that’s really all there is to it.”

The Phillies’ performance over the last six weeks does not exactly inspire confidence. Neither does the arrival of the mighty Dodgers on Monday night. But at least Sunday was a tiny step in the right direction, a nice respite from some of the dreck the team has provided in recent weeks.

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Phillies 4, Nationals 3: Maikel Franco delivers walk-off home run

Phillies 4, Nationals 3: Maikel Franco delivers walk-off home run

BOX SCORE

One night after blowing a two-out lead in the ninth inning, Hector Neris struck out the side in the top of the ninth inning of a tie game Sunday afternoon. The Phillies rallied for a run in the bottom of the inning to beat the Washington Nationals, 4-3, at Citizens Bank Park.

The winning run came off the bat of Maikel Franco. He hit a first-pitch homer off lefty Matt Grace with one out.

The Phils ended up salvaging one game in the series. They should have won two. They were one out away from a win Saturday when Neris gave up a two-out single and a two-run homer as Washington rallied for a 4-3 win (see story).

The Phils are still in rough shape at 48-45 and in third place in the NL East.

And the big, bad Dodgers are coming to town.

Arrieta's day

Jake Arrieta was able to give his team five innings of one-run ball and left with a lead, but there are still concerns about how effective he will be long term pitching with a bone spur in his elbow. For instance, Arrieta’s command was not particularly good. He threw 88 pitches in five innings and 37 of them were balls. His velocity also dipped from 93 mph to 91 over the five innings. Arrieta has pitched 4 1/3 and 5 innings in his last two starts. If he can’t go deeper than that into games, it is going to expose the team’s weak middle relief corps.

Bullpen blues

Veterans Jose Alvarez, Adam Morgan and Neris and rookie Ranger Suarez all did a good job out of the bullpen, but rookie J.D. Hammer struggled in the seventh. He walked a pair of hitters with one out and paid a big price as Howie Kendrick and Trea Turner smacked RBI singles to tie the game at 3-3.

Realmuto getting warm

J.T. Realmuto continues to get hot. He improved his hitting streak to 10 games with an RBI single and a solo homer. He has 16 hits over the 10 games.

Bryce Harper was 0 for 7 with a walk and three strikeouts in the final two games of the series.

Health check

Reliever Tommy Hunter is back on the injured list with the same forearm pain that he experienced in spring training. That ultimately kept him out of action for the first half of the season. Hunter is optimistic of a return, but it will be tough to bank on him.

Edubray Ramos was called up from Triple A.

Up next

It gets no easier for the Phillies. The Dodgers bring the best record in the majors into Philadelphia the next four days. The pitching matchups favor the Dodgers:

Monday night — RHP Zach Eflin (7-8, 3.78) vs. LHP Clayton Kershaw (7-2, 3.09)

Tuesday night — RHP Vince Velasquez (2-5, 4.63) vs. RHP Walker Buehler (8-1, 3.46)

Wednesday night — RHP Nick Pivetta (4-4, 5.81) vs. RHP Kenta Maeda (7-6, 3.82)

Thursday afternoon — RHP Aaron Nola (8-2, 3.63) vs. RHP Ross Stripling (4-3, 3.65)

The Dodgers swept the Phillies out west earlier this season.

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