When it comes to two-out runs, it's all about your perspective.
Score 'em and you're going to be happy.
Give 'em up and you're going to be frustrated.
And so, it was a frustrating night for the Phillies at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on Tuesday. They suffered a 5-2 loss to the Cardinals. All of the Cardinals' runs came with two outs and they out-hit the Phillies, 11-3.
The loss dropped the Phillies to 11-12 on the season. Since their 5-1 start, they have gone 6-11. They have not won back-to-back games since April 4-5, the third and fourth games of the season.
Hard to believe?
"Yeah, it is," manager Joe Girardi said. "It's been for a myriad of reasons. We've had chances to. We haven't come through a lot of times in the clutch. Our bullpen got disrupted with missing a couple of guys. At times, it's been our defense. I believe the talent is in there. We just need to play better."
Not much offense
Cardinals right-hander Carlos Martinez picked up his first win as a starter since July 7, 2018. Martinez held the Phillies to just two hits over 7⅓ innings. He allowed two runs but only one was earned.
The Phillies' three hits came on a double by Bryce Harper in the first inning, a single by Brad Miller in the third and a single by Harper in the ninth.
Martinez retired 15 of the final 16 batters he faced. The only Phillie to reach base in that span was J.T. Realmuto, who landed on second after a two-base error and eventually scored.
Phillies starter Zach Eflin kept it close most of the night. He trailed 3-2 with two outs in the bottom of the seventh and allowed a pair of singles to Tommy Edman and Dylan Carlson. They both eventually scored as the Cardinals pulled away.
Eflin was one strike away from getting out of the inning when Edman got to him for an 0-2 hit.
"I wasn't happy with that," the pitcher said. "And then I felt like I threw a good 3-2 backdoor slider to Carlson and I turn around and it's a shift beater. That's baseball. It would have been nice to have that one. But I threw too much of a hittable pitch on 0-2 to Edman."
After Carlson's hit put runners on the corners, Girardi removed Eflin at 104 pitches. Sam Coonrod was called upon to face Paul Goldschmidt, who was 0 for 3 with two strikeouts against Eflin.
Coonrod's first pitch was a 99.5 mph fastball and Goldschmidt crushed it to right-center. It hit off the top of the wall for a two-run double and a 5-2 Cardinals' lead.
That was the ballgame.
"I just felt he was at the end," Girardi said of the decision to remove Eflin. "It didn't work out. I liked the matchup with Coonrod, too. He just made a bad pitch."
Eflin did not walk a batter for the third time in five starts.
A season-long problem
Poor defense — i.e., giving away extra outs — has been a consistent issue for the Phillies this season. It reared its head again in the bottom of the first inning when Miller, playing left field in place of slumping Andrew McCutchen, missed a catchable ball off the bat of Nolan Arenado. Miller ran to his right and tried to make an inning-ending sliding catch but the ball eluded him. It was scored a double and it allowed Carlson to score as the Cardinals tied the game at 1-1. The Phillies had taken a 1-0 lead in the top of the inning on a walk by Rhys Hoskins, a double by Harper and a sacrifice fly by Realmuto.
Later in the game, third baseman Alec Bohm committed an error.
Cardinals give one back
The Cardinals nicked Eflin for a pair of one-out singles and a two-out, two-run double by Edman as they took a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the second.
In the top of the fourth, the Phillies benefited from some poor defense by the Cardinals and cut the lead to 3-2. Realmuto reached on a two-base error by right fielder Justin Williams and moved to third on an errant pickoff throw by Martinez before scoring on a groundout by Didi Gregorius.
Odubel Herrera, added to the roster on Monday, went 0 for 3 for the second straight game. He is 0 for 6 and has yet to reach base.
Hoskins entered the game leading the majors with eight homers. He was the first Phillie to be leading the majors in homers through April 26 since Chase Utley, who had 10 at that point in 2008.
Game 3 of the series is on tap for Wednesday night. Vince Velasquez (0-0, 6.75) will get the start against Johan Oviedo, who will be making his first start of the season.
This will be the second straight start that Velasquez has made in place of Matt Moore, who had missed time while being in COVID protocol. Moore is back on the active roster and would be available to pitch in relief behind Velasquez.