Kendrick pounded by Giants after whirlwind day

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Kendrick pounded by Giants after whirlwind day

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Kyle Kendrick didn’t get much sleep on Tuesday night and it showed with his performance on the mound on Wednesday night at Citizens Bank Park.

Kendrick was roughed up for seven runs on eight hits, a walk and a hit batsman in just two innings during the Phillies’ 9-2 loss to the Giants (see Instant Replay). The right-hander didn’t strike out any hitters and left some pitches right there for the Giants to take some big healthy swings.

They didn’t miss.

Kendrick had just six two-strike counts on the 16 hitters he faced and four of those guys ended up getting on base.

“He was having a tough time. It just wasn’t his night,” manager Charlie Manuel said. “He had one of those nights where everything they hit fell and went through. It’s just one of those things.”

Perhaps the cause for Kendrick’s sluggishness on the mound on Wednesday night was the fact that he and his wife Stephanie celebrated the birth of Kyle Kendrick Jr. on Tuesday at around 4:28 p.m. So after a whirlwind day, Kendrick didn’t take paternity leave. With Cliff Lee still day-to-day with a strained neck and the bullpen looking for help any way they can get it, Kendrick bit the bullet and took the mound.

Things went south in a hurry.

The Giants sent eight hitters to the plate in the first inning and had four runs on the board before the Phillies even came off the field for the first time. It could have been worse if recent call-up Cody Asche hadn’t made a Brooks Robinson-esque catch and throw to rob Hunter Pence of a hit and an RBI.

Kendrick’s reprieve was short-lived. Though he faced three batters in the second inning, he wasn’t able to get an out in the third inning when the Giants got three singles, an error and a fastball in the back to plate three more runs.

Just like that, Kendrick’s night was over.

“I’m not going to make any excuses,” Kendrick said. “I wouldn’t change that for the world. It was awesome. I just have to make better pitches. That’s what it comes down to.”

New addition or not, Kendrick didn’t look too sharp in his outings leading up to Wednesday’s debacle. He gave up 37 hits and 22 earned runs in 25 2/3 innings for a 7.71 ERA in July. Though he won twice in the month, Kendrick got one of those wins thanks to 13 runs of support.

Meanwhile, Kendrick’s month-by-month ledger has shown his performances get worse after each month. In April, the veteran righty went 2-1 with a 2.41 ERA, followed by a 3-2 May in which he posted a 4.03 ERA and made it through six innings in five of six starts.

Kendrick opened June with a complete game, but took a no-decision in an 8-7 win in Washington where he allowed seven runs in 4 1/3 innings. Still, Kendrick was able to pitch at least six innings in five of his six starts in June for a 4.17 ERA.

After showing consistency at the end of the 2012 season as well as the start of this season, Kendrick is hoping to figure out the cause of this latest setback before he takes the mound again in five days.

“I think the last four or five starts I’ve been leaving things up,” Kendrick said. “I feel like I’m having one bad inning and I’m not minimizing the damage. I’ve been in tough ruts before, but I just have to keep making pitches. Today I had no command, the ball was up and when you’re like that, most pitchers end up getting hurt.”

Unlike the 13-8 win over the Mets, Kendrick didn’t get much help from his hitters. Chase Utley hit one just over the railing in right for a homer in the first inning, and picked up another RBI on a groundout in the eighth. Otherwise, that was about all the offense the Phillies could muster against Giants’ starter Chad Gaudin.

The Phillies had just five hits -- four off Gaudin in seven innings -- and went 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position.

Meanwhile, the loss was the Phillies’ ninth in the last 10 games. At 50-57, the Phillies are a healthy 12½ games behind the Braves in the NL East and just a game ahead of the Mets for third place.

Are the Phillies about to be passed in the standings by the Mets?

To avoid something like that from happening, the Phillies will send Cole Hamels (4-13, 4.09) to the mound in the series finale. Matt Cain (6-6, 4.79) will pitch for the Giants.

When the Giants leave town, the Braves arrive for a three-game series this weekend threatening to destroy the Phillies’ very slim hopes at making a run for a playoff spot.

Best of MLB: Aaron Judge breaks Mark McGwire's HR rookie record, Yankees top Royals

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Best of MLB: Aaron Judge breaks Mark McGwire's HR rookie record, Yankees top Royals

NEW YORK -- Aaron Judge circled the bases for the 50th time this season, breaking Mark McGwire's major league record for home runs by a rookie, and returned to the Yankees dugout to exchange handshakes, hugs and high-fives with excited teammates.

And then, he walked up the steps and back onto the field.

Embarrassed by the attention, he managed four short waves with his right hand before heading back to the bench just three seconds later.

"They kind of told me: `You got to go out there. You got to go out there,'" he would later recall. "First curtain call. I hope it was a good one."

Judge had his second straight two-homer game in an 11-3 rout of Kansas City on Monday. On an unseasonably warm autumn afternoon, the Yankees won for the 16th time in 22 games during a playoff push that earned no worse than a wild card.

The 6-foot-7, 25-year-old slugger tied McGwire's 1987 mark with a two-run drive to right-center off Jakob Junis (8-3) in the third inning that put New York ahead 3-0, driving a 93 mph high fastball 389 feet about a half-dozen rows into the right field seats (see full recap).

Russell makes food run, Cubs beat Cards to near clinch
ST. LOUIS -- Say cheese!

Addison Russell and the Chicago Cubs were all smiles after moving within a victory of another division title Monday night.

Russell hit a three-run double in the first inning, then made a food run for a fan in enemy territory while the Cubs beat the St. Louis Cardinals 10-2. Chicago can wrap up the division with a win Tuesday against the Cardinals or a loss by Milwaukee against Cincinnati.

Russell helped the Cubs get to starter Luke Weaver (7-2) early, then made some friends out of rival fans. After diving into the stands chasing a foul ball down the third-base line and spilling a man's tray of chips, Russell emerged from the dugout a few innings later with a plate of nachos and delivered it to the fan. Russell stopped to take a selfie before heading back to play shortstop.

"That was pretty entertaining," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said (see full recap).

Donaldson, Blue Jays stop Red Sox winning streak at 6
BOSTON -- The Boston Red Sox would like to get the AL East wrapped up quickly so they can start resting some banged-up players.

Josh Donaldson homered and drove in three runs, powering the Toronto Blue Jays past the first-place Red Sox 6-4 on Monday night.

Boston's six-game winning streak was snapped and its magic number to clinch a second straight division title remained at three. The Red Sox lead the second-place New York Yankees, who beat Kansas City earlier in the day, by four games with six remaining.

But the most important thing for the Red Sox was the loss of two key players to injuries. For how long? They don't know yet.

Eduardo Nunez and Mookie Betts both left the game early. Nunez aggravated a right knee injury that sidelined him for 13 games, and Betts came out with pain in his left wrist (see full recap).

Rangers fall to Astros, wild-card hopes fading
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Marwin Gonzalez had four hits and three RBIs as the AL West champion Houston Astros beat Texas 11-2 on Monday night, putting the Rangers on the brink of elimination in the wild-card race.

Houston second baseman Jose Altuve, the American League leader with 199 hits and a .348 batting average, left in the eighth inning after he was hit by a 95 mph fastball. The team said X-rays were negative and Altuve had a bruised forearm.

Gonzalez had two hits and scored twice in an eight-run fourth, including a two-run single that chased starter Andrew Cashner (10-11). Gonzalez later hit his 23rd homer, a solo shot in the sixth.

Collin McHugh (4-2) struck out six while throwing 112 pitches in five innings. The right-hander is 15-0 with a 2.94 ERA in 19 starts in September or October during his four seasons with the Astros (see full recap).

In final start of 2017, Aaron Nola establishes himself as Phillies' best pitcher in loss

In final start of 2017, Aaron Nola establishes himself as Phillies' best pitcher in loss

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Before beginning their season-ending six-game homestand Monday night, Phillies manager Pete Mackanin singled out Aaron Nola when asked about the positives of what is mostly a dismal 2017 season. 

“Nola has really established himself,” Mackanin said pregame. “To me, he’s a solid No. 3 starter.”

Nola then looked the part in what was likely his final start of the year, using a sharp curveball to strike out nine over six innings in the Phillies’ 3-1 loss to the Washington Nationals at Citizens Bank Park (see observations)

“I felt like just the command and getting ahead of hitters helped out this year,” Nola said. 

Returning from elbow surgery that ended his 2016 season in July, Nola (12-11) became the best starter on the team thanks to the development of a changeup in spring training to go with his fastball and dominant curveball. 

“I felt a lot stronger,” the soft-spoken Nola said when asked to sum up his season. “I felt like I was using my legs more and that increased my velocity a little bit.” 

Nola allowed two runs or fewer in 18 of his 27 starts. His 184 strikeouts are the most by a Phillies pitcher who made fewer than 30 starts in a season. 

“I wouldn’t call him a power pitcher. He doesn’t appear to be a strikeout pitcher,” Mackanin said. “But when you can locate your fastball and get ahead with your fastball down in the strike zone and have that kind of curveball and then you add that kind of changeup, now the hitter has three pitches to worry about.”

He struck out 36 over his final four starts and 25 1/3 innings, using his sweeping curve as an out pitch. All but one of his strikeout Monday night came on the curve. 

“It’s been good,” Nola said. “I’ve been able to command it on both sides of the plate and down, which has helped me. I felt like my fastball command was better this year than it was last year.” 

In a rotation in which basically nothing else is settled, Nola gives the Phillies an anchor for next season. The 24-year-old LSU product has a 3.54 ERA and the changeup gives him three quality pitches. 

“It’s been kind of the cherry on top, a little bit, being able to throw that right-on-right,” catcher Andrew Knapp said of the changeup. “It’s a hard pitch to hit when you’re left-handed hitter. But when you’re right-handed and coming to that back foot, it’s a really good pitch.” 

Nola retired the first four hitters before Jayson Werth singled and Michael A. Taylor followed by crushing a 3-1 fastball into the left-field seats for his 17th homer. 

It was the 18th home run allowed by Nola. But he got into a groove from there. Facing a lineup without Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy and Anthony Rendon, Nola held the NL East champions to two runs and five hits with two walks. 

But it didn’t prevent the Phillies from losing for the fourth time in five games. 

Odubel Herrera’s solo home run on an 0-2 pitch from A.J. Cole (3-5) in the fourth was all the offense the Phillies could muster. They’ve managed seven runs in four games. 

Rhys Hoskins is slumping (0 for 4 and hasn’t homered since Sept. 14) and Nick Williams struck out three times. 

“Our bats have gone silent for a few days now,” Mackanin said. 

They still have to win one more to avoid 100 losses, and many changes are possible in the offseason. Mackanin said before the game that “I still don’t know if I’ll be back here next year (see story)”. 

It’s a team that still has plenty of holes and lots of questions ahead of 2018. 

Nola, though, appears to be someone they can rely on. 

“The goal is to have five (reliable) guys on every start. But it’s nice,” Mackanin said. “When Nola pitches, we all expect to win. He’s done an outstanding job. He’s had the arm issues, but he came back from that better than he was before.”