The Philadelphia Phillies were victims of a sweep once again, losing game three of a three-game set with the Texas Rangers in Arlington 8-4 on Thursday afternoon.
Righty Nick Pivetta got the start on the mound, with longevity once again being the issue today, needing 20 pitches in the first inning and 60 through three. Pivetta tossed a solid 4.2 innings, but used 107 pitches to do so. He was effective, though, allowing only one run on three hits, four walks, while striking out five.
Michael Saunders got the scoring started after he legged out a triple in the second, coming around to score the next play on an RBI sacrifice fly by designated hitter Maikel Franco, who was dropped to the seventh spot due to his early struggles.
In the fifth inning, Franco would provide Pivetta with one more run, depositing a Martin Perez curveball into the center field seats for a solo home run, his sixth of the season. Through the top of the fifth, it looked like the 24-year-old Pivetta was poised for his first major league victory.
However, it would all unravel once Pivetta was relieved by Joely Rodriguez. The Phillies bullpen has struggled all year long, and Rodriguez continued that trend. He’d allow seven runs on six hits, blowing the Phils lead, Pivetta’s shot at the win, and ballooning his ERA.
After a couple RBI singles by Robinson Chirinos and Rougned Odor, the hits kept coming. The big blow was by way of a three-run homer off the bat of 27-year-old first baseman Ryan Rua. Rua’s bomb was the 27th home run allowed by the Phillies bullpen this season, leading all of Major League Baseball in that category.
Rodriguez continued to allow baserunners and runs through the sixth, surrendering three more, extending the game to a Texas-sized six run lead. By way of Rodriguez’s performance, he was dealt the loss and Pivetta would get another no decision.
The rest of the bullpen was able to stop the bleeding as Pat Neshek, Joaquin Benoit, and Mark Leiter Jr. combined to finish the game with 2.2 hitless innings and three strikeouts.
The Phillies middle of the order could not overcome the deficit, regardless of the late push in the final at-bats. Tommy Joseph was able to knock in two more on a two-run blast, staying hot with his bat. That’s all that the Phillies could muster up off the Rangers bullpen, though.
Pete Mackanin’s club has now dropped their last four games heading into their weekend series with Pittsburgh.
The Phillies drop to 14-24 (.368) on the year, their worst start since 2000 and fall to a paltry 3-12 in the month of May. They’ve also lost 15 of 18, being outscored 105-78 in that stretch dating back to the end of April.
Following the game, Nick Pivetta was optioned to AAA Lehigh Valley to make room for the impending return of Aaron Nola.
Veteran right-hander Jeremy Hellickson (4-1, 3.71 ERA) will look to right the ship when he takes the mound on Friday for the series opener with Pittsburgh. The Pirates will counter with fellow righty Trevor Williams (2-2, 6.41 ERA) in his third start of the season. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. from PNC Park.
Phillies probable pitchers for the final series of this nine-game road trip are listed as Hellickson, Vince Velasquez, and Nola set to return from his disabled list stint.
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Photo by Acsport79 (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons