Nick Pivetta unravels in 2nd inning of Phillies' loss to Brewers

Nick Pivetta unravels in 2nd inning of Phillies' loss to Brewers

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MILWAUKEE — It's important to remember that as a rookie, Phillies right-hander Nick Pivetta is still getting the hang of being a starting pitcher in the big leagues. 

So while seeing Pivetta give up eight runs in the second inning Friday night in the Phillies' 9-6 loss at Milwaukee was most certainly frustrating (see Instant Replay), you have to give him credit for the way he recovered.

"We've seen that with him before," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "He's pitched well, lost it for awhile and got it back. Part of pitching up here is to realize what you need to do next. Take a deep breath, step off and regroup. It took a few too many hitters to do that."

Pivetta was coming off his two best outings of the season. He allowed just four earned runs over 14 innings and went seven full in each of those last two efforts.

Armed with a 2-0 lead before he threw his first pitch, Pivetta appeared to be in control early against the NL Central-leading Brewers, striking out his first four batters before the wheels fell off. 

Domingo Santana got it started with a double, Manny Pina followed with a single and Keon Broxton made it a 2-1 game when his base hit drove in Santana. Orlando Arcia put Pivetta in the hole when a 1-2 fastball caught just enough of the plate for the shorstop to drive it to left for his ninth home run of the season and Pivetta followed that by walking Milwaukee's starting pitcher Zach Davies.

Then came a single by slumping second baseman Jonathan Villar and another walk, this time to Eric Thames, to load the bases for Ryan Braun.

Pivetta threw a first pitch slider to Braun that hung just above the zone, right down the middle, and Braun crushed it to dead-center for a grand slam. That triggered a visit from pitching coach Bob McClure, who had a simple message.

“[It was about] making adjustments," Pivetta, who fell to 2-5 with a 5.63 ERA in 12 big-league starts, said of the chat. "What are you going to do now? Are you going to go out there and give up, or are you going to go out there and shut it down? So it got me back on track and I was able to shut it down.

"My concern was after giving up eight runs, going out there and trying to minimize the damage as much as I can so we don't have to wear out the bullpen or use too many position players.”

Pivetta did get back on track and retired nine straight batters before Travis Shaw drew a one-out walk in the fifth and later scored on Pina's sac fly.

"It was like two different pitchers out there today," Mackanin said. "He struck out four in a row, then he just didn't locate any of his pitches. He hung every breaking ball he threw up there in that one span of eight or nine hitters, then he was a different pitcher after that. The home run and the grand slam did him in."

Friday marked just the second time that the rookie had a meltdown-type of start. Unlike his last, when he was tagged for six runs on seven hits and five walks over 2 2/3 innings at Arizona June 26, Pivetta managed to turn things around.

"You could tell the difference between my start in Arizona when stuff sped up on me there," Pivetta said. "It was two pitches that got me in trouble."

Mackanin was impressed by the way Pivetta recovered.

"That was good to see," he said. "He's a rookie and this is his first go-round in the big leagues. He's shown us a lot of promise and I like what he's been doing. Today wasn't his best."

It certainly wasn't his best, but he finished strong and that's reason for optimism. 

Tonight's lineup: Nick Williams, J.P. Crawford sit vs. lefty

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Tonight's lineup: Nick Williams, J.P. Crawford sit vs. lefty

With the Phillies facing lefty Alex Wood tonight, Tommy Joseph gets a rare start at first base.

It's Joseph's third start in the Phillies' last 12 games. He's become a forgotten man with the Phils' outfield fully healthy and Rhys Hoskins thriving at first base.

Pete Mackanin is using the matchup with a southpaw as a reason to get Joseph in the mix. Joseph has actually been dreadful this season against lefties, hitting just .197/.272/.410 in 135 plate appearances.

J.P. Crawford and Nick Williams have the night off.

Andrew Knapp is behind the plate to catch his second game since returning from a six-week DL stint.

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Freddy Galvis, SS
3. Odubel Herrera, CF
4. Rhys Hoskins, LF
5. Aaron Altherr, RF
6. Maikel Franco, 3B
7. Tommy Joseph, 1B
8. Andrew Knapp, C
9. Jake Thompson, P

Phillies-Dodgers thoughts: Rhys Hoskins refuses to go into a slump

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Phillies-Dodgers thoughts: Rhys Hoskins refuses to go into a slump

Phillies (60-91) vs. Dodgers (96-55)
7:05 p.m. on CSN; streaming live on CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports App

Well, this series hasn't gone as planned.

Despite facing Clayton Kershaw and Yu Darvish, the Phillies have beaten the Dodgers on back-to-back nights to force at least a split. 

For L.A., it continues a miserable four-week stretch. The Dodgers were 91-36 on Aug. 25 and have gone 4-19 since.

The Phillies, meanwhile, are 31-33 since the All-Star break and 17-14 since Aug. 6.

More on tonight's game and the series in general:

• Last night was yet another fantastic game for Rhys Hoskins, who hit the game-deciding three-run double, drove in four runs in all and reached base three times. 

It appeared Hoskins was going into a slump after he went 0 for 11 with six strikeouts against the Athletics this past weekend, but he's responded by reaching base in five of seven plate appearances against the Dodgers. 

Through 39 games, Hoskins has hit .299/.428/.739 with five doubles, 18 homers and 43 RBIs. He has 29 walks and 33 strikeouts.

Odubel Herrera hit his 40th double of the season last night, becoming the first Phillie since Jayson Werth in 2010 to reach 40. 

The Phils had just one player hit 40 doubles in 2008 (Chase Utley), 2009 (Jimmy Rollins) and 2010 (Werth) and then none from 2011-16.

• Another scoreless inning last night from Luis Garcia, who's allowed one run in his last 18 appearances and has a 2.43 ERA in 61 games.

Nick Williams picked up his 11th infield single of the season last night. That kind of speed will allow him to maintain a higher batting average on balls in play than most players (see story).

• The Phillies face left-hander Alex Wood, who's had a career year. Wood is 15-3 with a 2.69 ERA in 140⅓ innings this season, with 144 strikeouts, 37 walks and just 13 home runs allowed. 

Lefties and righties alike have struggled against Wood, but he's been much more hittable since the All-Star break. Wood had a 1.56 ERA in the first half and has a 4.07 ERA since.

In his last start, Wood shut out the Nationals over six innings with eight strikeouts. In his previous three starts, he allowed 12 runs and six homers in 17 innings.

• Two Phillies, in particular, have seen Wood well: Freddy Galvis is 7 for 13 with a double; Cesar Hernandez is 5 for 11 with a double and three walks. 

Jake Thompson starts for the Phillies. He's 2-2 with a 4.46 ERA in nine games (six starts). He put 10 Marlins on base in 5⅓ innings in his last start but didn't allow a run.

• The Phillies would need to go 2-9 or worse the rest of the way to reach 100 losses. If the season ended today they'd pick second in the 2018 draft. The Giants are 1½ games worse.