Jerad Eickhoff, Phillies burned by lack of offense in 1st loss of season

Jerad Eickhoff, Phillies burned by lack of offense in 1st loss of season

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CINCINNATI -- The Phillies pounded the ball all over the lot in beating the Cincinnati Reds on opening day.

In the second game of the season, they barely hit it out of the infield.

The Phils were held to just four hits -- and three of them did not leave the infield -- in a 2-0 loss to the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday night (see Instant Replay).

Jerad Eickhoff delivered a strong start in his season debut, but ended up with the loss when he gave up a pair of runs in the bottom of the seventh inning. Joey Votto's solo homer leading off the frame was the game's big blow.

"Not enough hits," said manager Pete Mackanin, sounding like he did often last season when the Phillies finished last in the majors with 610 runs.

"We played a clean game. The bats just weren't going."

Cincinnati lefty Brandon Finnegan had something to do with that. For seven innings, he hooked up in a fast-moving pitchers' duel with Eickhoff. Both pitchers were really good in their season debuts. Finnegan was just a little better, holding the Phillies to one hit over seven innings. He struck out nine. For the game, Phillies hitters struck out 13 times.

"You've got to give Finnegan credit," Mackanin said. "He was tough."

Finnegan actually labored through a 25-pitch first inning in which he gave up a hard-hit, two-out single to left-center by Maikel Franco. After that, he set down 19 Phillies hitters in a row.

"In that first inning, I thought we were going to set the tone of the game but then he settled down after that," Mackanin said. "We just couldn't do anything against the guy. I credit him for a well-pitched game."

Eickhoff breezed through the first six innings on 66 pitches. He gave up the game's first run when Votto led off the bottom of the seventh by swatting a 1-0 curveball into the right-field seats. Eickhoff then allowed a double to Adam Duvall on another curveball and was chased from the game on a two-out, RBI hit by Zack Cozart.

Three of the five hits Eickhoff gave up came in that seventh inning.

"It was up, a hanging curveball," Mackanin said of the pitch to Votto. "As well as [Eickhoff] pitched, some of his curveballs had tight spin and others were just kind of rolling. Those two [to Votto and Duvall] were kind of rolling. It happens. He only gave up two runs and pitched a heck of a good ballgame."

Eickhoff admitted that the curveball to Duvall was not sharp.

But, in his view, the one to Votto was not bad.

"The homer to Votto, the 1-0 curveball, it's kind of one of those things where I threw one of my better pitches," Eickhoff said. "You just tip your cap. I think it might have fooled him a little but he was able to keep his hands back and put the barrel on it and he's strong enough to put it out of the park."

Eickhoff made 33 starts last year. He delivered a quality start -- six or more innings, three or fewer earned runs -- in 20 of them.

He already has his first quality start this season.

But he also has his first loss.

Run support continues to be a problem for Eickhoff. He has made 42 big-league starts since coming up in August 2015. His mates have scored one or zero runs (while he's been in the game) in 18 of those starts.

"It's a shame," Mackanin said. "But he can't control that. He always gets after it and does his part."

Eickhoff is one of the most levelheaded guys in the clubhouse. Sure, he'd like to get eight runs every time out. But he's not about to complain about the situation.

"I can't control that," he said. "Those guys are busting their butt every day to get hits, working in the cage. I can't control it. I'm just trying to get outs and when I walk off the mound hopefully I kept us in the game."

He did that in this one.

The Phils actually got a little something going in the eighth, after Finnegan departed. Aaron Altherr and Cameron Rupp both had infield singles with no outs against hard-throwing Michael Lorenzen. Up came Freddy Galvis.

Mackanin thought about bunting, but decided to play for the big inning.

"To play for a tie there with the way we swung tonight, I just thought that maybe Freddy could hit a double or something like that," Mackanin said.

Lorenzen struck out Galvis and pinch-hitter Michael Saunders before ending the threat by getting Cesar Hernandez on a ground ball.

There was some unexpected excitement in the ninth when Odubel Herrera reached on an infield hit and, with his team down two runs and the first baseman not holding him tight, decided to steal second with two outs and Tommy Joseph at the plate. At first, Herrera was called out and it looked like the game had ended in ignominious fashion for the Phillies. The call was overturned moments later and Herrera was off the hook. Joseph ended up striking out to end the game.

Mackanin was not thrilled with Herrera's move and said he would speak to the player.

"He made it," Mackanin said. "That's all I'm going to say."

Hurts so good: Phillies win third straight with a wacky walkoff

Hurts so good: Phillies win third straight with a wacky walkoff

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Brock Stassi's toe hurt.
 
Maikel Franco's ribs and head hurt.
 
Pain never felt so good.
 
The Phillies pulled off their most dramatic win of the young season when they rallied for two runs in the bottom of the 10th inning to beat the Atlanta Braves, 4-3, at chilly Citizens Bank Park on Saturday night (see Instant Replay).
 
Franco completed a three-RBI night when he smacked a two-out, two-run, bases-loaded single to right to give the Phillies the walk-off win. It was the Phillies' third straight win and fifth in the last seven games as they improved to 8-9 with a chance to sweep a series and even their record at .500 on Sunday afternoon.
 
Franco will be in the lineup.
 
But he might need a couple of Advil to get going.
 
After his game-winning hit, Franco was hilariously chased into right field by his euphoric teammates. The Phillies third baseman absorbed a beat down with Andres Blanco delivering a blow to the top of Franco's head.
 
"You see that -- boom!" Blanco said in the happy clubhouse after that game.  
 
Franco did more than see it.

He felt it.
 
"Whitey got me," he said, laughing and pointing to his head and ribs. "My body is screaming right now."
 
Across the clubhouse, Stassi was feeling Franco's pain. His foot got stepped on during the happy scrum.
 
"My toe is killing me," he said with a laugh.
 
Stassi, too, might need an Advil before Sunday's game. He has a good chance to be in the lineup at first base because Tommy Joseph seems like a candidate for a day off after a tough night. Joseph made a costly throwing error in the top of the 10th inning that helped the Braves take a 3-2 lead.
 
Stassi helped rescue the Phillies from that deficit. His 10th inning single was the first of three one-out hits that the Phils collected against Braves' closer Jim Johnson. With the bases loaded, Johnson made Odubel Herrera look bad with a swinging strikeout for the second out. That brought up Franco. New hitting coach Matt Stairs is constantly encouraging Franco to use the whole field and that's just what the cleanup man did in lacing a liner to the warning track in right.

"To right field! How 'bout that," manager Pete Mackanin said.
 
It was Franco's second single of the night. He would have been awarded a game-winning double if he had reached second base. But, alas, he was chased into right field.
 
In the clubhouse after the game, Franco was told by a club official that he could have had a double had he touched second.
 
Franco's eyes widened in disbelief.
 
"Ah, Mikey!" he said, scolding himself.
 
Then he laughed.
 
Across the clubhouse, Joseph could laugh about the miscue that saw him throw to an empty third base after a sacrifice bunt in the 10th. With everything moving fast, he mistook shortstop Freddy Galvis for a baserunner as Galvis streaked to cover third.
 
Joseph's error put a man on third and the Braves scored the go-ahead run on an infield hit.
 
The ironic part about Joseph's error was the Phillies played excellent defense -- Herrera and Aaron Altherr made great catches in the outfield and Galvis was Galvis at short -- until the 10th.
 
They pitched well, too, from starter Jerad Eickhoff's five innings of one-run ball to the stingy relief work of Joely Rodriguez, Luis Garcia and Pat Neshek. They teamed on three shutout innings.
 
With his top late-game tandem of Joaquin Benoit and Hector Neris in need of a night off, Mackanin asked Edubray Ramos to close it out. Ramos struck out the first two batters in the ninth and was one out away from his first big-league save when Brandon Phillips unloaded on a hanging slider to tie the game at 2-2.
 
Ramos rebounded and got the final out of the inning. As he walked off the field, he covered his mouth with his glove and shouted. Best guess: He said a naughty word. But ultimately his teammates got him off the hook. Parts of it were pretty. Parts of it were ugly. But when the night was over, the Phillies had a win.
 
"It was really a wacky game," manager Pete Mackanin said. "We played well overall, then there was a flurry of activity at the end."
 
Mackanin reached for a bottle of water.
 
"I'm going to drink more of this Smart Water," he said. "It's a happy day."

Best of MLB: Gonzalez, Nationals beat Mets 3-1 for 6th straight win

Best of MLB: Gonzalez, Nationals beat Mets 3-1 for 6th straight win

NEW YORK -- Gio Gonzalez mentioned the tasty Latin food served in the visitors' clubhouse. And the airplanes that fly overhead. And the pretty features of the ballpark.

But if there's a real reason why the Washington lefty is so successful at Citi Field, he isn't saying.

"Any secrets?" he offered. "No."

Gonzalez pitched no-hit ball into the sixth inning to win again at the Mets' stadium, and the Nationals beat New York 3-1 on a drizzly Saturday for their sixth straight victory (see full recap).

Contreras' slam powers Arrieta, Cubs to 12-8 win over Reds
CINCINNATI -- After a sputtering start, the Cubs' offense is finally rolling. And it's no surprise that they're breaking out at Great American Ball Park, a place that's just their style.

Wilson Contreras hit his first career grand slam and Anthony Rizzo and Jason Heyward added three-run shots on Saturday, powering Chicago to a 12-8 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.

Jake Arrieta (3-0) returned to the mound where he threw his second career no-hitter last April 21 and struggled mightily at the outset, giving up two homers in the first inning. Chicago's offense pulled him through with another homer-filled game at Great American Ball Park. Arrieta helped with an RBI triple (see full recap).

Homers by Mancini, Schoop carry Orioles past Red Sox 4-2
BALTIMORE -- Just when it appeared Steven Wright had finally gained command of his fluttering knuckleball, the Baltimore Orioles found their groove.

The result: Another early exit for the 2016 All-Star in Boston's 4-2 loss Saturday night.

Trey Mancini and Jonathan Schoop homered in succession off Wright, Jayson Aquino won his first big league start and the Orioles used one big inning to secure their fourth straight victory (see full recap).

Simmons belts grand slam to lead Angels past Blue Jays 5-4
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Andrelton Simmons hit a tiebreaking grand slam, Tyler Skaggs pitched into the eighth inning and the Los Angeles Angels held off the slumping Toronto Blue Jays 5-4 Saturday night.

Simmons cleared the bases in the third inning off Casey Lawrence (0-2) for his second career grand slam, helping the Angels snap a three-game losing streak and win for the second time in 11 games.

Skaggs (1-1) gave up a run in the first but settled down to hold the Blue Jays to five hits over the next six innings, getting the Blue Jays to hit into three double plays along the way. He was lifted after Ryan Goins doubled to lead off the eighth (see full recap).