Monday night's blown lead hurts even more as Phillies drop finale in Phoenix

Monday night's blown lead hurts even more as Phillies drop finale in Phoenix

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PHOENIX — Why do you need to close out those two-run leads in the ninth inning when you get eight shutout innings from your starting pitcher?

Patrick Corbin.

He is the reason.

The Phillies were manhandled by the left-hander in a 6-0 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday afternoon (see first take).

The Phils ended up dropping two of three in the series, and while that’s not anything to be embarrassed about — the D-backs are a good club that entered the series tied for first place in the NL West — things would have been much different if Seranthony Dominguez had been able to close out Jake Arrieta’s gem in the first game of the series Monday night. Dominguez blew a 2-0 lead in the ninth inning and the Phils lost in 14 innings (see story). Protect that lead Monday night and come back and win Tuesday night — as the Phils did — and taking one on the chin from a pitcher as good as Corbin becomes a lot easier to swallow because you still get out of town with a series win.

Instead, the Phillies head into an off day Thursday on a down note before opening a three-game series in San Diego on Friday. A good showing against the lowly Padres is imperative after a tough trip through the desert that left the Phils at 64-50. They entered Wednesday 1½ games ahead of Atlanta in the NL East.

“This is very similar to what we always do,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “We know how to turn the page. We don't let losses linger. You're going to go into a city like Phoenix against a very good team and sometimes you're going to win the series and there are going to be times where they just play better. Over the course of this series, they played better than us. It's part of baseball. But we will not carry that into San Diego. We will bring strength and enthusiasm and our brand of baseball to San Diego. I'm very confident we're going to perform well there.”

Starting pitching had been a huge strength for the Phillies recently. Their starters’ ERA was a glistening 1.46 in the previous eight games entering Wednesday. Vince Velasquez had been a big part of that success with 6 1/3 shutout innings against Miami on Friday. Velasquez’s success had extended farther back than that. Over a span of seven outings and 33 1/3 innings, he’d given up just five runs and held opposing hitters to a .168 batting average.

But it wasn’t there for Velasquez in this one. He allowed six hits, two walks and four runs over four innings. Two of the hits, a double and a two-run triple, came on sliders when he was ahead in the count and fueled a three-run third for Arizona. David Peralta, who homered twice to kill the Phillies on Monday, had the triple and four hits on the day.

“I’m kind of kicking myself in the butt because I know I can execute those pitches,” Velasquez said of the two sliders that hurt him in the third inning. “The secondary stuff wasn’t really working as much as I wanted it to. Just a terrible display of executing my secondary pitches today.”

The velocity on Velasquez’s fastball was down a little. He averaged 93, down a tick from his usual average of 94. Kapler attributed that to Velasquez throwing more two-seam fastballs.

Velasquez said he was fine physically.

“I felt great all the way through,” Velasquez said. “I wanted to go deeper, but Kap made a decision about what’s best for the team and took me out. But other than that I felt strong the whole way through.” 

With just a few runs, the Phillies might have been able to get Velasquez off the hook, but it didn’t happen. The Phils were out-hit, 13-4. They struck out 10 times and walked just once. Corbin gave up three singles and a double over 7 1/3 shutout innings. He walked none and struck out nine.

"He pitched tremendously," Kapler said. 

The Phillies will look to remedy an inconsistent offense by pursuing free agent Manny Machado in the offseason. But Corbin, who ranks ninth in the NL in ERA (3.15), seventh in opponents’ batting average (.214) and fourth in WHIP (1.04), will also be a highly coveted free agent this winter and he’s an East Coast guy from upstate New York.

Maybe he’s worth a phone call, too.

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Rookie relievers Seranthony Dominguez, Austin Davis burned in Phillies' 14-inning loss

Rookie relievers Seranthony Dominguez, Austin Davis burned in Phillies' 14-inning loss

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PHOENIX — The Phillies have lost just two games in the last eight days and, frankly, they should not have lost either of them.

Jake Arrieta pitched eight shutout innings against a rugged Arizona Diamondbacks team on Monday night and the Phillies were looking at a victory to kick off a six-game road trip when everything fell apart in the bottom of the ninth inning. Seranthony Dominguez blew a two-run lead and the Phillies went on to lose, 3-2, in 14 innings (see first take).

David Peralta, who began the onslaught against Dominguez with a one-out homer in the ninth, homered again with one out in the 14th to give Arizona the win. Peralta’s game-winner came against lefty Austin Davis.

Both Dominguez and Davis are rookies, getting baptized by fire in their first pennant race. They felt the uncomfortable burn in this one.

The loss snapped a five-game winning streak for the Phillies and it stung simply because a team looking to snap a six-year playoff drought can’t waste pitching efforts like the one Arrieta turned in.

Eight days earlier, in Boston, the Phils squandered an eight-inning gem by Aaron Nola in suffering a 2-1 loss to the Red Sox in 13 innings. That was a game the Phillies absolutely should have won. Centerfielder Odubel Herrera misplayed a ball that cost Nola the only run he allowed. Herrera also made a base-running gaffe in that game and did not play the next day.

Manager Gabe Kapler called that loss in Boston “a punch in the face.” He wasn’t as colorful in describing the latest loss, but it was clear that it was painful.

“Jake pitched tremendously well,” Kapler said. “He was very poised throughout the game. He had all of his pitches working and had a ton of confidence. He pitched great and we definitely strive to win baseball games like that for a starting pitcher that performs like Jake did.”

Arrieta has pitched 15 innings in his last two starts and allowed just one run.

“Losing a game just stinks, really,” Arrieta said. “But two first-place teams going at it and it’s no easy task to score a couple of runs off Seranthony and the guys that came in behind him, so credit them for sticking with it.

“Really nice job by both bullpens to get it to the 14th and we know at some point someone is going to score and they just happened to do it before we did.”

Dominguez began his big-league career with an incredible streak. He did not give up a run in 14 2/3 innings over his first 12 games. Since then, he has given up 11 earned runs in 25 2/3 innings over 24 games — an ERA of 3.86.

The 23-year-old power arm is still a huge weapon for the Phillies. But he is human. He allowed a home run and blew a save against Miami on Sunday. The Phillies came back to win that one. They could not win this one, though they are still 14 games over .500 and a game up on Atlanta in the NL East.

Kapler acknowledged that Dominguez was not at his best Monday night, “But we are not wavering in our confidence in him whatsoever. We cannot wait to get him back out on the mound because we understand how good he is and the talent will prevail.”

As for Dominguez’s confidence …

“I think naturally it’s going to be slightly shaken, but he’s a pretty resilient kid,” Kapler said. “He’s pretty strong mentally. He’s pretty tough across the board and I don’t expect this to keep him down.”

Dominguez hung an 0-1 slider to Peralta in the ninth. That homer made it a one-run game and raised the pressure in the inning. Dominguez then gave up a double and a game-tying base hit.

“The only thing that I can think of that went wrong is that I hung a slider,” Dominguez said. “It should have been lower. It should have been on the plate. But it stayed up. That could have been huge.

“I feel bad for Jake. He pitched a great game. What I really wanted the most was to get him that win and to help the team win.”

Dominguez might have to wait a day to get back on the mound. He has pitched two days in a row, so it’s likely that Kapler will try to stay away from him Tuesday night when the two teams go again. Nick Pivetta will pitch against Zack Greinke. Lost in the disappointment of Monday night's defeat was the Phillies' scoring just two runs. Getting hot against Greinke is never easy and that's another reason this loss was so painful for the Phils. 

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Phillies waste Jake Arrieta's gem as win streak snapped in extras by Diamondbacks

Phillies waste Jake Arrieta's gem as win streak snapped in extras by Diamondbacks

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PHOENIX — The Phillies blew a two-run lead in the bottom of the ninth inning and suffered a painful, 3-2 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks in 14 innings on Monday night/Tuesday morning.

Seranthony Dominguez blew his second save in as many days. The Phils came back to win Sunday’s game against Miami, but not this one.

The loss snapped a five-game winning streak for the Phillies as they squandered eight shutout innings from Jake Arrieta. That really hurt.

Dominguez got the first out of the ninth then allowed a solo homer to David Peralta, a double to Eduardo Escobar and a game-tying single to Steven Souza Jr.

Luis Garcia got two outs, including the final one with the bases loaded, to get out of the ninth with the score tied at 2-2.

Victor Arano pitched out of trouble in the 10th and 11th.

Tommy Hunter pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the 12th and stranded a runner at third in the 13th.

Lefty Austin Davis took over in the bottom of the 14th and took the loss when he allowed a one-out, solo homer to Peralta.

The loss dropped the Phillies 63-49 and reduced their lead in the NL East to a game over Atlanta.

The time of game was four hours, 38 minutes. It ended at 2:18 a.m. Philadelphia time.

Arrieta and Arizona right-hander Zack Godley hooked up in a tight pitchers' duel. It was a scoreless game into the seventh inning and both teams had just two hits to that point. The Phils broke the scoreless deadlock with two runs in the inning. Asdrubal Cabrera singled with one out and came around to score on a triple by Odubel Herrera. Before the frame was over, Jorge Alfaro lifted a sacrifice fly to right field to give the Phillies a 2-0 lead.

Arrieta made six starts in July and the Phillies won them all. He was 4-0 with a 2.80 ERA in the month. He started off the current winning streak on the final day of July with seven innings of one-run ball at Boston.

Arrieta picked right up where he left off in Boston in this one. His eight shutout innings lowered his ERA to 3.11. Arrieta gave up three hits, including a leadoff double in the bottom of the second. Cabrera, starting at shortstop for the third straight game, started a nice 6-4-3 double play to get Arrieta out of trouble that inning. Arrieta walked two and struck out just four. All of his strikeouts came in his final three innings of work.

Godley pitched well for Arizona. He gave up just the two runs over 7 1/3 innings. He allowed five hits and a walk, which was intentional. He hit two batters and struck out seven.

Nick Pivetta opposes Zack Greinke in the second game of the series Tuesday night.

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