Phillies' bats go quiet in loss after missed opportunity

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Phillies' bats go quiet in loss after missed opportunity

WASHINGTON — It was right there for the Phillies on Friday night at Nationals Park.

Leading the Nationals by a run with one out in the fifth inning, the Phillies looked ready to break it open with a decisive rally. For a team that had been eyeing the .500 mark for the past month, this was the chance.

Not this time. Instead of piecing together the game-breaking rally, the Phillies’ offense went to sleep after Ben Revere grounded into an inning-ending double play. After Jimmy Rollins lobbed a single into right field to load the bases with one out in the fifth, the Phillies sent 13 hitters to the plate.

Those 13 hitters made 14 outs.

Worse, the Phillies scored just a pair in the 5-2 loss to the Nats (see game recap), marking the 19th time in 48 games the team has scored two runs or fewer.

“We were right there with them until we went back out on the field there,” manager Charlie Manuel said after his team fell to 23-25. “They scored and went ahead of us. They shut us down from there. It was a good game up until that point.”

It nearly was a rout for the Phillies.

Domonic Brown and Freddy Galvis led off the inning with singles followed by a sacrifice fly from Erik Kratz to give the Phils a 2-1 lead. Pitcher Kyle Kendrick followed with a slug bunt up the middle to put runners on first and second to flip over the lineup. That’s when Rollins blooped the ball over the infield into left field for a single.

Running on contact, Galvis appeared to have a head of steam headed into third base. When he hit the bag and took a turn for home he slammed on the brakes when he saw third-base coach Ryne Sandberg with both arms up signaling for him to stop.

Maybe Galvis could have forced leftfielder Tyler Moore to make a throw to the plate to get him. Maybe he would have made it with the third run.

Either way, with the heart of the Phillies' lineup due up, Sandberg saw a big inning looming. That’s why the third-base coach threw up the stop sign.

“Yeah, that's kind of what happened,” Manuel said. “I don't know how good Freddy read that ball.”

Instead of a big inning, Revere hit Jordan Zimmermann’s 0-1 offering hard and right at second baseman Steve Lombardozzi.

Revere and the Phillies never had a chance.

“I’m trying to hit it as hard as I can and I hit it right to the second baseman,” Revere said. “It’s one of those things in the game. We’ll come back to tomorrow, try to get the series even and win Sunday.”

The Phillies grounded into a pair of double plays on Friday night and have bounced into 39 of them this season. Revere, perhaps the speediest runner on the team, has grounded into seven double plays this season. That’s the same number as he grounded into in each of the last two seasons.

The difference is Revere hit into 16 double plays in his first 991 big-league plate appearances. He hit unlucky No. 7 in just his 150th plate appearance on Friday night.

Like Revere, the Phillies were stopped cold in their tracks after that decisive fifth inning. The Nats posted four runs in the bottom half of the inning and that was more than enough.

After all, the Phillies went 13 up and 14 down the rest of the way. When a team has trouble scoring runs, it’s those little plays that make the biggest difference.

“You’re right, really. That's usually what happens,” Manuel said. “Things don't go your way. Ben hits into a double play. That's kind of the way it goes.”

Best of MLB: Royals storm back in 9th inning for win over Blue Jays

Best of MLB: Royals storm back in 9th inning for win over Blue Jays

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Whit Merrifield hit a two-run, two-out double that capped a four-run rally in the ninth inning, and the Kansas City Royals beat the Toronto Blue Jays 5-4 on Friday night to reach .500 for the first time since April.

With their 10th win in 12 games, the Royals improved to 36-36. They were 6-6 before play on April 20, then went on a nine-game losing streak that night and dropped as low as 10-20, seven games out of first place. They trail AL Central-leading Cleveland by three games.

Toronto took a 2-1 lead into the ninth and extended it when Josh Donaldson and Justin Smoak hit RBI singles off Joakim Soria (4-2) (see full recap).

Dodgers cruise past Rockies for 8th straight win
LOS ANGELES -- Yasiel Puig homered and left-hander Alex Wood kept his record perfect as the streaking Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the NL West rival Colorado Rockies 6-1 on Friday night for their eighth consecutive victory.

The Dodgers have won 14 of their last 15 games. They have scored at least six runs in seven consecutive games.

Wood (8-0) allowed one run in six innings. He gave up only three hits and walked two, retiring his last 10 batters.

The Dodgers have homered in 15 consecutive games, tied for fourth-longest streak in club history. The last time they managed it was in 1977. Their record is 24 consecutive games with a home run.

Rookie left-hander Kyle Freeman (8-4) allowed five runs and a career-high 10 hits and three walks in six innings (see full recap).

Torreyes hits walk-off single to lift Yanks over Rangers
NEW YORK -- Ronald Torreyes hit a game-winning single with two outs in the 10th inning after midnight, and the New York Yankees edged the Texas Rangers 2-1 on a rainy Friday night for just their second win in 10 games.

Brett Gardner lined a tying home run with one out in the New York ninth off closer Matt Bush. After Chasen Shreve (2-1) escaped a bases-loaded jam in the top of the 10th, Torreyes kept the Yankees atop the AL East.

Yu Darvish and Masahiro Tanaka kept it scoreless into the late innings in the first major league meeting between the Japanese stars (see full recap).

Mark Leiter Jr. picks up 1st big-league win as Phillies cool off Diamondbacks

Mark Leiter Jr. picks up 1st big-league win as Phillies cool off Diamondbacks

BOX SCORE

PHOENIX -- The clubhouse was beginning to clear and still the star of the game had not yet emerged from the shower.

"He's in there cleaning the guacamole and mayo out of his hair," Cameron Rupp said with a laugh.

Eventually Mark Leiter Jr. made it out of the shower and over to his locker where equipment man Phil Sheridan presented him with three game balls, souvenirs from not only his first big-league start but his first big-league win, as well.

"It's something I'll never forget," the 26-year-old right-hander from Toms River, N.J., said pitching six shutout innings to backbone the Phillies' 6-1 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on Friday night (see Instant Replay).

"I’ll be honest, I was probably more excited for this than I was for my major-league debut. To go out there and contribute to a win is what I was hoping to do."

Leiter, a 22nd-round draft pick by the Phillies in 2013, had never made it onto the 40-man roster until the Phils needed a reliever in mid-April and gave him a shot after he'd gotten off to a good start at Triple A. He spent six weeks in the majors and made 12 relief appearances before being sent back to Triple A the first weekend of June.

Leiter worked as a starter during his time back at Triple A. He pitched six shutout innings against Syracuse in his last start and got the call to come back up when Jerad Eickhoff went on the disabled list with a back strain earlier this week.

Leiter's return assignment was not easy: The Diamondbacks are one of the best hitting clubs in the majors and the best on their home turf. They entered the game scoring 6.48 runs per game at home and with an .886 OPS, both major-league bests.

None of that fazed Leiter.

"In my opinion, this is the big leagues and it doesn’t matter who the lineup is," he said. "They all have the ability to hit and hit well. They’re all big-leaguers and they've earned their right to be big-leaguers. I was just trying to pitch to the team you're facing that day."

Leiter trusted his low-90s fastball and commanded it well. He mixed in his secondary stuff and kept the D-backs off-balance with his splitter. He scattered three hits, walked one and struck out five. He showed no fear.

"Great performance," manager Pete Mackanin said. "He made it look easy. He made a lot of good hitters look bad with his split. For him to come up and do that to a real good hitting team was outstanding."

Leiter's dad, Mark Sr., pitched for the Phillies in 1997 and 1998. He made the trip in from New Jersey to watch his son's first big-league start.

"I guess they found him on TV," Leiter said. "That's what they were telling me. I'm sure he wasn't too pleased they found him because he was probably stressed out. But I think it was probably worth him coming out here. He's probably happy."

How could he not be?

Leiter's teammates were definitely happy.

They treated Leiter to a raucous postgame dousing that included as many different condiments as could be found in the clubhouse dining room. One laughing player had a bottle of ketchup in his hands. Another had a squeeze bottle of honey.

And then there was the guacamole and mayo that Rupp mentioned.

"In his first major-league start, to come up here and do that in what is known as a good hitters’ park - that proves Mark is pretty strong between the ears," Tommy Joseph said. "He's been one of those under-the-radar guys that people have doubted, but his mentality and ability to prepare are second to none."

Joseph played a big role in the win, smacking a two-run homer in the ninth inning to give the Phillies some breathing room. Maikel Franco also had a big home run and Freddy Galvis contributed an important triple that led to a Phillies' run in the first inning.

The Phils still have the worst record in the majors at 24-48, but they've won two in a row, both on the back of good starting pitching performances. Aaron Nola pitched 7 1/3 innings of one-run ball on Thursday.

And Leiter delivered on Friday.

"It's good to see those back-to-back," Mackanin said.