Luis Garcia is relieved during the Phillies' 12-4 loss to the Tigers on Sunday. (USA Today Images)
DETROIT — Just when it looked as if things couldn’t get any worse for the Phillies, the wheels completely blew off the wagon in Sunday’s 12-4 defeat to the Tigers at Comerica Park.
Nursing a three-run lead going into the bottom of the fifth, the Phillies were bludgeoned by 12 unanswered runs in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings from the Tigers, including a particularly dreadful sixth inning where three errors, two hits and three walks led to eight unearned runs.
The big blow was a grand slam from Jhonny Peralta, which was the only hit of the inning that left the infield for the Tigers.
The loss gave the Phillies their eighth straight loss, equaling the team’s longest losing streak since September of 2011. The Phillies also wrapped up the post-All Star road trip with a 1-8 record, scoring just 14 runs in the losses.
At 49-56, the Phillies are 10 1/2 games behind the first-place Atlanta Braves.
Rookie Jonathan Pettibone played with fire throughout his outing and could have been burned far worse than the three runs he allowed in five innings. Pettibone allowed seven hits and four walks and faced three different hitters with the bases loaded.
Pettibone also danced out of trouble with two on and one out in the first and fourth innings and with the bases loaded in the third and fifth. Until Matt Tulasosopo singled with the bases loaded in the fifth, Pettibone had held the opposition 0 for 10 with the bases loaded.
Tigers starter Rick Porcello allowed three runs on seven hits and two walks in six innings.
The bullpen took some heavy damage in that rough sixth inning.
Lefty Jake Diekman took over in the sixth inning, walked the first hitter he faced, made a throwing error to put two on with no outs, and then gave up a bunt single to load the bases. After Austin Jackson was retired on a short fly ball to right, starting leftfielder Steve Susdorf dropped a routine fly ball hit by Don Kelly to allow the go-ahead run to score.
That brought in right-handed reliever Luis Garcia, who promptly walked in a run against the first hitter he faced. With the bases still loaded, Garcia got Prince Fielder to hit a ground ball to first, but Darin Ruf’s throw on the force at home was wild to allow another run to score.
Garcia then walked Victor Martinez to force home another run before serving up the grand slam to Peralta.
Though he was charged with four runs, allowed a homer and walked in two, Garcia’s ERA remains 0.00.
Antonio Bastardo allowed a run in 1 2/3 innings and Jonathan Papelbon made his first appearance since July 21 with a scoreless eighth inning.
At the plate
The Phillies’ No. 4 and 5 hitters, Darin Ruf and Kevin Frandsen, both went 2 for 4 with a run and an RBI. Meanwhile, with a single in the fourth, Laynce Nix picked up his first RBI since April 27.
Though his error was quite costly, Susdorf got his first major-league hit with a double to lead off the fifth inning. Susdorf came around to score on Ruf’s two-out single.
Reigning AL MVP Miguel Cabrera was ejected in the first inning by home-plate umpire Chad Fairchild for arguing on the second pitch he saw from Pettibone. Tigers manager Jim Leyland was also ejected for arguing the call.
The Phillies have off Monday before opening a nine-game homestand. The Giants are the first team in with a three-game set scheduled to begin Tuesday night. The pitching matchups for the series against the Giants:
Tuesday: John Lannan (2-4, 4.13) vs. Barry Zito (4-7, 4.92)
Wednesday: Kyle Kendrick (9-7, 3.96) vs. Chad Gaudin (4-2, 2.77)
Thursday: Cole Hamels (4-13, 4.09) vs. Matt Cain (6-6, 4.79)