MIAMI — The Phillies wasted a golden chance to make up ground in the NL East race on Wednesday night.
The Phils were manhandled by Miami Marlins rookie right-hander Sandy Alcantara in a costly 2-1 loss.
Alcantara, in just his second big-league start, held the Phils to three hits over seven scoreless innings.
The loss kept the Phillies three games behind first-place Atlanta with 23 games to play.
Atlanta lost earlier in the day, but the Phillies could not capitalize.
The Phillies lost the series to Miami. They have not won a series since Aug. 2-5.
Offense continues to be an issue for the Phillies. They have scored two or fewer runs in five of their last six games.
A big chance
Yes, Phillies players watched the Braves-Red Sox game in the clubhouse before their game. Yes, they saw the Sox come back from a 7-1 deficit to stun the Braves. The Braves’ loss gave the Phils a chance to cut their deficit in the division to two games and manager Gabe Kapler managed this one with playoff-level urgency. Down 2-0 in the top of the fifth inning and looking for offense, he used Odubel Herrera as a pinch-hitter for starting pitcher Nick Pivetta. Herrera grounded into a double play.
Looking for offense
Kapler’s desire to get some offense could be seen in his starting lineup. He sacrificed defense for offense in giving Carlos Santana his first start at third base in four years. That allowed him to get Justin Bour’s bat in the lineup at first base. Bour batted second. “This is a lineup top-heavy in on-base potential,” Kapler said before the game. “We feel like our lineup has a chance to score some runs tonight.” The plan was to substitute with stronger defense if the Phils got a lead, but they never did.
Free passes kill
The Marlins' two runs, both against Pivetta, initially reached base on a leadoff walk and a leadoff hit batsman. Ouch.
A costly play on the bases
Down 2-0, the Phils got a leadoff single from Roman Quinn in the eighth. Santana then hit a line drive to second and Quinn was doubled off first. It was a killer play because Jose Bautista then came off the bench and stroked a pinch-hit double to right-center. Bautista then scored the Phillies’ first run on a base hit to left by Asdrubal Cabrera. Facing Kyle Barraclough, Cabrera hit an 0-2 to pitch to left field to make it a 2-1 game. Rhys Hoskins stranded pinch-runner Scott Kingery at first base when he swung at a pitch out of the zone for his third strikeout of the night. Hoskins is 0 for his last 11 and that hurts.
A late chance
Down by one run, the Phils put two runners on base with one out in the ninth, but Marlins reliever Drew Steckenrider struck out Pedro Florimon and Quinn to end the game.
Santana comes alive
Santana continued to swing it well out of the leadoff spot. He doubled with one out in the third, but the Phils could not get him home.
Good work by the pen
Tommy Hunter and Seranthony Dominguez combined on four scoreless innings to keep the Phils alive.
Miami dismantled its roster before the season and went into a rebuilding mode. That created the opportunity for NL East teams to clean up on the Marlins. First-place Atlanta did that. It went 14-5 against the Marlins this season.
The Phils are 9-7 against the Marlins with three more games to play in Philadelphia. The Phils went 3-6 in Miami. Their performance against the lowly Marlins could end up being the difference between first and second place in the NL East.
Phils lose pitching inventory
The Phillies lost pitcher Ben Lively on waivers to the Kansas City Royals. Lively, who opened the season in the Phillies’ major-league rotation, was designated for assignment earlier in the week. He is the second pitcher that the Phils have lost on waivers in the past week. Mark Leiter Jr. was claimed by Toronto.
The Phillies are off on Thursday. They open a three-game series in New York against the Mets on Friday night. Here are the pitching matchups for series:
Friday night — RHP Aaron Nola (15-4, 2.23) vs. LHP Steven Matz (5-11, 4.20)
Saturday night — RHP Zach Eflin (9-6. 4.05) vs. RHP Noah Syndergaard (10-3, 3.33)
Sunday night — RHP Vince Velasquez (9-10, 4.10) vs. RHP Jacob deGrom (8-8, 1.68).