Wednesday’s game should have been about Roy Halladay having another quality start. It should have been about Chase Utley and Ryan Howard hitting solo home runs. It should have been about the Phillies winning.
It wasn’t about those things, because the Phillies didn’t win. And the Phillies didn’t win because the bullpen failed.
That unit had been pretty good lately. In 14 of the last 16 games before Wednesday’s meeting against the Pirates at Citizens Bank Park, the Phillies' 'pen allowed one or no runs. That had a lot to do with why the Phils were 6-0 after six innings this season. They were 6-0. They aren’t any longer.
When Halladay came out of the game, the Phils had a two-run lead. Then Antonio Bastardo, Mike Adams and Jeremy Horst pitched the last three innings against Pittsburgh and that lead turned into a permanent deficit.
Pirates 5, Phillies 3 (see Instant Replay).
Bastardo, Adams and Horst combined to allow six hits and four earned runs from the seventh inning on. Adams had a particularly bad outing. He gave up two hits, two walks and two earned runs and was pulled after facing just four batters in the eighth inning. He didn’t record an out.
“It’s very frustrating,” said Adams, who got the loss. “We got out to a lead and got to the bullpen, but we weren’t able to hold on. It’s frustrating when the guys are battling and trying to put something together. For us to let them down like that, it’s very frustrating.”
Utley hit a solo home run in the first inning, his fourth of the season. Howard added a solo home run in the fourth when he crushed an 0-2 curveball to right field. It was Howard’s second homer of the year. The blasts by Utley and Howard were the first for any of the Phillies off a left-handed pitcher this season. When Kevin Frandsen hit an RBI single in the sixth, the Phillies looked like they were in good shape.
After all, Halladay had his third solid outing in a row. In his first two starts of the season, Halladay allowed 18 base runners and lasted only 7 1/3 total innings. Since then, he’s been much better. He won his last two starts, and he looked sharp against the Pirates on Wednesday.
Halladay went six innings, surrendering just one hit, one eared run and two walks. He struck out eight and threw 95 pitches, 57 for strikes.
“To me, it was like two different games,” Halladay said. “We did so many things early. Defensively, we made some great plays. Chase hitting a home run. Ryan hitting a home run. We did a lot of great things early on in the game. Then, obviously, later in the game we didn’t do things like we had earlier. It almost felt like two different games.”
True enough. Bastardo took over for Halladay in the seventh and surrendered a home run to Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez. From there, things deteriorated quickly.
“[Wednesday] our bullpen, the back end of it, we had some trouble,” Charlie Manuel said. “We didn’t get it done.
“I felt like we were in control of the game. Even after Bastardo gave up a home run to Alvarez in the seventh, I still felt like we were in control of the game. [Wednesday] was one of those nights. Our bullpen has been real good and we didn’t get it done. That’s going to happen.”
The bullpen was the most obvious reason the Phillies fell to the Pirates, but it wasn’t the only factor. The Phillies had several opportunities to score more runs. The Phils had 10 hits, but left eight men on base. They were also just 2 for 8 with runners in scoring position.
The biggest blunder came in the fifth inning. The Phillies had runners at first and third with no outs. But when Michael Young hit a grounder to third, Jimmy Rollins, who was on third base, didn’t immediately break for home. The hesitation resulted in a rare 5-4-2 double play when Rollins was thrown out at the plate. The Phillies didn’t score that inning.
“We definitely had a chance to score more runs, but we didn’t do it,” Manuel said. “That’s the bottom line. We had chances. They were there for us.”