Phillies

Reds 4, Phillies 3: Winning streak ends at 4 games as Reds erase Phillies' lead in 7th inning

Reds 4, Phillies 3: Winning streak ends at 4 games as Reds erase Phillies' lead in 7th inning

BOX SCORE 

The Phillies looked on course for a three-game sweep Sunday afternoon at a sold-out Citizens Bank Park.

Then the seventh inning happened.

Aaron Nola failed to finish off a promising start and the Phillies' walking-wounded bullpen couldn't pick him up in a 4-3 loss to the Reds.

The Phillies dropped to 37-28, still best in the NL East. However, they missed out on what would have been their third sweep and a season-best fifth straight win.

At this point last season, the Phillies were 34-31.

The Reds improved to 29-35.

The keys

 • The Phillies' beat-up bullpen did not do the job. Jose Alvarez inherited two runners in the seventh inning and let both score. Vince Velasquez inherited one and it came around to score as the Reds used a three-run inning to charge ahead 4-3.

The Phillies have seven relievers on the injured list. Nola was at 104 pitches when he was pulled with two outs in the inning and a pair of lefties due up, one of whom he has dominated (see story).

• Reds first baseman Joey Votto was in the thick of Sunday's action. He lost a ball in the sun that resulted in a 2-1 lead for the Phillies (more on that below). He then made up for it by delivering a two-out, two-run single in the seventh inning off of Alvarez, erasing the Phillies' 3-1 lead. The runs were charged to Nola, who was lifted and had held Votto to 0 for 13 in his career.

• Sonny Gray, Cincinnati's 29-year-old right-hander, made his first career start against the Phillies. His defense did not help him. The Phillies, who like to work counts, got into the Reds' bullpen after 5 2/3 innings of three-run ball from Gray.

• The Phillies had just five hits. Cincinnati's relievers, who have allowed the fourth-fewest runs per game in baseball, shut down the Phillies, allowing just one hit.

Not enough from Nola

Coming off his first loss in which he allowed six earned runs in 5 1/3 innings against the Padres, Nola was good but couldn't nail down the seventh inning and it proved costly.

With two outs, nobody on and the Phillies holding a 3-1 lead, Nola allowed a single and then uncharacteristically walked pinch-hitter Josh VanMeter on four pitches. During the VanMeter at-bat, there was a brief injury delay for catcher J.T. Realmuto.

Manager Gabe Kapler turned to the lefty Alvarez, which made the Reds go to Nick Senzel, a righty-swinging pinch-hitter. Senzel chopped an infield single and that brought up Votto, who delivered on the first pitch.

In the top of the second inning, Nola was hurt by Cincinnati's decision to hit-and-run, resulting in a bloop single to second base and eventually the game's opening run.

Nola was in control most of the afternoon but received a no-decision. His final line: 6 2/3 innings, four hits, three earned runs, three walks (one intentional) and seven strikeouts. He is 6-1 with a 4.58 ERA in 14 starts. Through 14 starts last season, he had a 2.27 ERA.

Who's got it?

In the box score, it will read as a two-run single for Rhys Hoskins, who was hitting .216 with two homers and 10 RBIs since May 8 entering the day.

But how the Phillies grabbed a 2-1 lead in the third inning came on one of the more bizarre plays you'll see at a game.

Hoskins skied a popup in the infield with the bases loaded and two outs. Votto, battling the sun and wind, drifted into foul territory but was about 10 feet away from the ball, which dropped in fair territory.

The play scored Maikel Franco and a hustling Bryce Harper, who was initially ruled out before Kapler successfully challenged the play, completing a wild, go-ahead sequence. Reds catcher Curt Casali was slow on the tag as the throw beat Harper home.

No Bruuuuuuce

Jay Bruce, who was hitting .444 with four homers, two doubles and 11 RBIs in his first five games with his new club, finally went hitless in a Phillies uniform. He finished the day 0 for 3.

Harping on aggressiveness

Harper ran the bases like a madman Sunday. He had a stolen base, went to second on a single after Yasiel Puig fired to home plate, bulldozed into home on Hoskins' pop-up single and even tried to steal home but was unsuccessful.

Maybe he can be a bit smarter on the attempt to swipe home with Hoskins at the plate, but all in all, you like the aggressiveness (see story).

The Phillies came in with MLB's third-fewest stolen bases but picked up two Sunday.

Up next

The Phillies on Monday open a three-game series at Citizens Bank Park against the Diamondbacks, who are 34-32 and have won four straight.

Here are the pitching matchups:

Monday, 7:05 p.m./NBCSP — RHP Jerad Eickhoff (3-3, 4.14) vs. RHP Taylor Clarke (1-2, 4.43)

Tuesday, 7:05 p.m./NBCSP — RHP Jake Arrieta (5-5, 4.29) vs. RHP Jon Duplantier (1-0, 3.27)

Wednesday, 7:05 p.m./NBCSP — RHP Zach Eflin (6-5, 2.88) vs. Merrill Kelly (6-6, 4.12).

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Strange postgame vibe after an inexcusably ugly Phillies loss

Strange postgame vibe after an inexcusably ugly Phillies loss

Where does one begin after a night like this?

With the offense that loaded the bases twice in the first three innings against Clayton Kershaw and stranded all six runners?

With the entire infield, which forgot how many outs there were in a fourth inning that set baseball back 70 years?

With the bullpen full of fringe or inexperienced major-league relievers that turned a six-run game into a 13-run game and stood no chance against the Dodgers' potent lineup?

With the $330 million outfielder who has been outplayed by more than a few visiting superstars at Citizens Bank Park this season?

This 16-2 loss, this was the kind of game that left the manager, the players, the fans and the reporters with more questions than answers.

"It's certainly not encouraging," Gabe Kapler said when asked about the embarrassing performance.

The manager didn't do much expanding. He didn't need to. The fact is the 2019 Dodgers are worlds better than the 2019 Phillies. L.A.'s rotation goes five, six, seven deep. Their lineup can beat you with power, with plate selection, with contact or with small ball like they used in the fourth inning, when they perfectly executed a safety squeeze and a double-steal of second and home.

Facing Kershaw, you're not going into the game with huge expectations. The Phillies were +160 underdogs, one of the biggest underdog lines you will see for a baseball team playing at home. But this was still pathetic. Inexcusable. Baffling. Concerning.

Why is it that opposing offenses can come into this park and make it look small? Why is it that opposing hitters can take such advantage of these juiced baseballs but the Phillies cannot? Cody Bellinger had as many home runs in a three-inning span Monday as Harper has in his last 17 home games.

The Phillies have been outscored 34-8 by the Dodgers, the team every other club in the National League knows it probably must get through to make it to the World Series. What is the Phillies' goal at this point? Is it to chase the wild-card? Is it to make it to a one-game playoff, cross their fingers and call it a job well done?

That wasn't the goal in the spring, when this team had 90-plus win aspirations and looked like it might feature five All-Stars.

This is why the game isn't played on paper, they say.

"I think after yesterday's game everybody's real positive and after a game like tonight you feel like you got kicked in the teeth," said Jay Bruce, who stranded six runners. "You get to start over each day and you get to start a game at 0-0 and have an opportunity to win. We have to play better, for sure. But as poorly as we've played, we're still right there in the wild-card hunt and you never know what's going to happen in the division so we just need to play like we can and play more consistent baseball and see what happens. ... A night like tonight is tough but we get to come back tomorrow and do it again."

There weren't many players in the clubhouse when it opened. Harper was sitting right there waiting, like he always does, no matter the game's outcome. He deserves credit for that, even if some of his answers rang hollow.

Zach Eflin, who has allowed 22 runs in his last 20 innings, actually took some positives from his start.

"I really felt like I probably gave up only two hard-ish hit balls that (fourth) inning," he said. "But at the end of the day, I felt like I got better today. I thought me and J.T. (Realmuto) did a good job of mixing pitches and really getting my curveball and changeup over. So although the box score doesn't really look too good, I feel like I took a lot of positives from today.

"We're all calm. There's no need to panic. We know how good we're going to be and it's just going to take that one time, that one game that everything clicks and then it's going to be a fun rest of the year."

They're fine. Everything is fine. The season isn't deteriorating two weeks before the trade deadline.

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Phillies embarrassed by Dodgers and have 2 of the ugliest innings you'll ever see

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Phillies embarrassed by Dodgers and have 2 of the ugliest innings you'll ever see

BOX SCORE

What a completely humiliating loss for the Phillies.

It wasn't just that they were blown out, 16-2, by the visiting Dodgers. It was the way it unfolded and the way it sounded.

The Dodgers, with so many of their fans chanting and cheering throughout the night, scored six runs in the Phillies' ugliest inning of the season, the top of the fourth Monday. 

They went single, RBI double, groundout, RBI single, walk, RBI single, safety squeeze RBI single, sacrifice, RBI single, double steal of 2nd and home.

The Dodgers' catcher, Austin Barnes, laid down the successful squeeze. Cesar Hernandez was shifted all the way toward the second base bag and had no chance to scamper to first in time to receive the throw from Zach Eflin. A few batters later, it was again the catcher Barnes who stole home.

And that wasn't even the worst look of the inning. When Eflin struck out Alex Verdugo for the third out, the Phillies were so out of it that the entire infield appeared to not know it was the third out. Realmuto trickled the ball back to the pitcher, Eflin and his fielders stood around, and then after a few seconds, all realized in unison the inning was over and walked toward the dugout. 

The boos just rained down.

You can't blame Phillies fans at this point. They've been watching bad baseball for six weeks. An offense that can't consistently pick up the big hit, a rotation that can't get six innings deep nearly enough, a bullpen that can't protect leads.

It all bubbled to the surface Monday in an ugly loss, the kind of loss one would hope leads to a team meeting or a tough conversation or something that shows these coaches and players are taking the mounting losses personally.

And it got even worse

The Dodgers later added four homers, two by Cody Bellinger. Bellinger had as many home runs at CBP Monday as Bryce Harper has in his last 17 home games.

And still, it got worse. In the eighth inning, Yacksel Rios was ejected for hitting Justin Turner after Verdugo's homer, Edgar Garcia couldn't get a third out, the Dodgers scored five more runs and the Phillies were forced to insert Roman Quinn to pitch ... with the bases loaded. Quinn did get the inning-ending flyout before allowing two more runs in the ninth.

The Phillies are 48-46. Tomorrow night is Vince Velasquez against Walker Buehler.

Missed opportunities

The Phillies loaded the bases in the first and third innings against Clayton Kershaw and stranded all six runners. Jay Bruce was the main culprit, flying out to end the first and striking out on three pitches with one out and the sacks full in the third.

The Phillies reached base twice via error against Kershaw in the third inning. When you're facing a Hall of Fame pitcher, you have to cash in when you get the chance. The Phillies couldn't. You almost knew before the Dodgers even crossed the plate that this would be costly.

Segura dinged?

Jean Segura was limping in the field in the top of the ninth and again after his groundout in the bottom of the ninth. Manager Gabe Kapler said after the game that Segura was being examined but had no further update. We'll know more Tuesday.

Up next

The Phillies again miss NL All-Star starter Hyun-Jin Ryu, but that just means they get the rest of the Dodgers' strong rotation.

Tuesday night at 7:05 — Vince Velasquez (2-5, 4.63) vs. Walker Buehler (8-1, 3.46)

Wednesday night at 7:05 — Nick Pivetta (4-4, 5.81) vs. Kenta Maeda (7-6, 3.82)

Thursday afternoon at 12:35 — Aaron Nola (8-2, 3.63) vs. Ross Stripling (4-3, 3.65)

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