Phils blow late lead, lose 3 of 4 to visiting Mets

Phils blow late lead, lose 3 of 4 to visiting Mets
August 11, 2014, 6:00 pm
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Justin De Fratus had retired 17 consecutive batters before being hit around in the seventh inning Monday. (USA Today Images)

BOX SCORE

Those walks will kill you. So will those three-run home runs.

The Phillies lost for the third time in four days to the New York Mets on Monday afternoon. First, a walk came back to bite the Phillies. Then they were chewed up by a three-run home run.

Anthony Recker broke an 0-for-19 skid with a three-run homer off reliever Justin De Fratus in the top of the seventh inning. The home run snapped a tie score and propelled the Mets to a 5-3 win (see Instant Replay).

Just moments before Recker’s home run, starting pitcher David Buchanan took a 2-1 lead to the mound in the seventh. His day unraveled on a leadoff walk to Juan Lagares and an RBI double by Matt den Dekker.

“You can’t walk the first hitter,” Buchanan said after the game. “Can’t happen.”

The loss left the Phillies at 5-11 against the Mets this season. That includes an ugly 2-8 showing at home.

“All in all, we’ve had a hard time scoring against their starting pitching at home,” manager Ryne Sandberg said.

This was no exception.

Coming into the game, Mets lefty Jonathon Niese seemed ripe for the beating. He’d lost four straight starts, ringing up a 5.76 ERA in the process.

The Phillies got a two-run home run from Darin Ruf in the fourth inning, but that was really it. Not that the Phils didn’t have their chances. Domonic Brown had a pinch-hit double with two outs in the seventh and was thrown out at the plate trying to score on base hit to center field by Ben Revere. With Jimmy Rollins on deck, third base coach Pete Mackanin tested Lagares' arm and lost.

“I decided to take a chance,” Mackanin said. “They have good arms, but I took a chance.”

If Brown had scored, the Phillies would have pulled to within 5-3 and the ninth inning would have been more interesting. That’s when Cody Asche drew a two-out walk and Chase Utley came off the bench and doubled home the run.

Utley, who did not start against the lefty Niese, nearly belted a two-run home run. In fact, his drive to right was at first ruled a home run before the umpires reviewed the replay and ruled that a fan had helped the ball over the wall. So instead, Utley was ordered back to second with an RBI double.

In the end, it was too little, too late for the Phillies.

Buchanan did not have much margin for error when he went out for the seventh inning and the walk to Lagares took it all away.

Sandberg felt confident going to his bullpen after den Dekker’s game-tying double. The Phillies' bullpen had allowed just one earned run over its last 24 2/3 innings and De Fratus had retired 17 straight batters.

De Fratus' string of success ran out when he allowed a single to Wilmer Flores, putting two men on base for Recker, the Mets’ backup catcher. Recker hit a full-count slider -- up in the zone and 81 mph -- out to left to give the Mets a 5-2 lead.

“It’s a pitch I have a lot of confidence in,” De Fratus said of his slider. “But in that at-bat I threw two of the worst sliders I’ve thrown all year. I got away with the first one. He got me on the second one. Just a poorly executed pitch.”

Recker did what hitters are supposed to do with poorly located pitches. Earlier in the game, Ruf pounded an elevated, 88-mph fastball from Niese over the wall in dead center. Ruf had not started in five straight games, his playing time trimmed because of Ryan Howard’s improvement and Grady Sizemore’s contributions. Sandberg said he will continue to look to get Ruf time at first base and in left field, where he played Monday. But Sandberg is not hinting of a first-base platoon any longer. Howard went 8 for 30 with two homers and nine RBIs on the seven-game homestand.

“He’s swinging the bat better, making more contact,” Sandberg said.

Ruf figured he had a shot to start against the lefty Niese. Maybe he’ll get another look against lefty C.J. Wilson in Anaheim on Tuesday night.

“When I see my name in the lineup, I just try to take advantage of it,” Ruf said.

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