A series billed as a measuring stick for the Phillies ended with a one-sided loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday afternoon.
The D-backs jumped Phillies' starting pitcher Ben Lively for seven runs in 2 1/3 innings en route to pounding the Phils, 8-2, at Citizens Bank Park.
Arizona, which owns the majors’ second-best record at 17-7, ended up winning two of three in the series. The Phillies are 15-9. They entered the series finale with the fifth-best record in the majors.
The Phils beat Arizona and right-hander Zach Greinke, 5-3, on the strength of a strong start from Jake Arrieta and a three-run homer by Aaron Altherr on Wednesday night.
Any momentum that the Phils gained in that one went away quickly as Lively was ambushed for three runs in the first inning. The right-hander served up a two-run homer to Jarrod Dyson two batters into the game as Arizona sent nine men to the plate in the first inning.
Lively walked two batters in the third inning, one setting the table for a three-run homer by Nick Ahmed. The other preceded a two-run homer that was served up by Lively’s replacement, Drew Hutchison.
Hutchison was able to give the Phils 3 2/3 innings of one-run mop-up duty as the team did not have to blow out its bullpen before a three-game series against Atlanta.
Lively does not have overpowering stuff. He relies on deception in his delivery and location of his pitches to keep his team in games. He had done that in his previous three starts, all Phillies’ victories, but was unable to continue the streak in this one.
The Phillies’ starting rotation has been a strength this season. The starting staff entered the game ranked first in the NL with a 3.08 ERA. A starter had allowed more than three earned runs in just four of 24 games this season.
Rookie Matt Koch got the win for Arizona. He held the Phillies to six hits and two runs over five innings.
• Odubel Herrera has reached base in 26 straight games, dating to last season.
• Aaron Altherr is 7 for 18 with two doubles, a triple, a homer and eight RBIs in his last five games.
• The Phillies host Atlanta the next three days. Pitching matchups:
Friday night — RHP Aaron Nola (2-1, 2.30) vs. RHP Julio Teheran (1-1, 4.00)
Saturday night — RHP Nick Pivetta (1-0, 2.57) vs. RHP Mike Foltynewicz (1-1, 2.77)
Sunday afternoon — RHP Vince Velasquez (1-3, 4.50) vs. RHP Brandon McCarthy (3-0, 3.38)