Phillies' bullpen finds a way in win vs. Pirates

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Phillies' bullpen finds a way in win vs. Pirates

PITTSBURGH -- Charlie Manuel just kept trotting them out there. One after another after another.

Jake Diekman for two batters, Phillipe Aumont for four, J.C. Ramirez for two, Antonio Bastardo for three, Justin DeFratus for one, Jonathan Papelbon for three.
 
Six relievers, 10 outs.
 
“I used 'em all, didn’t I?” Manuel said laughing. “I had [Joe] Savery left, I guess.”
 
It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t pretty.

Diekman, Aumont, Ramirez and Bastardo allowed a combined six of 11 batters to reach base, but the beleaguered Phillies' bullpen cobbled together 3 1/3 scoreless innings in relief of Jonathan Pettibone Tuesday night, and the Phillies ended the Pirates’ nine-game winning streak with a 3-1 win at PNC Park (see Instant Replay).
 
The Phillies entered the day with the second-worst bullpen ERA in baseball, and general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said before the game he’d like to acquire bullpen help.
 
“Very expensive, and a lot of people are looking for the same thing,” he said. “But I would have interest in proven bullpen, if I could.”
 
But for one night, the Phils’ young bullpen got it done. Somehow.
 
“The guys that are there, we do have limited experience, and so for us it’s more about just getting out there and keep getting the opportunities, keep getting the opportunities,” said De Fratus, who got a huge out with the bases loaded to end the eighth.
 
“We have some very talented arms down there, I firmly believe that, and it’s just a matter of getting those experiences, learning to bump our head.
 
“Sometimes, it’s not fun, those experiences, but you’ve got to have them to move forward, and the more we do that the better we’re going to become, because there’s a lot of talented arms down there, and we have the potential to be very good. There’s no reason we can’t be very good.”
 
It was DeFratus who took the loss on the Phils’ first three losses on their West Coast swing. He faced 15 batters in those three games, allowing 11 of them to reach base and four of them to score.

He only got four outs.
 
“When you failed before and you’ve felt that feeling, there’s nothing to be afraid of anymore, you know what I mean?” DeFratus said.
 
“It’s unfortunate that you do have to fail to learn that lesson, but I didn’t die. So there’s nothing to be worried about out there. You just go out there and throw the ball over the plate as hard as you can and let’s go.”
 
Tuesday night, facing the team with the best record in baseball, De Fratus entered the game with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the eighth and struck out .285 hitter Jordy Mercer on five pitches.
 
De Fratus pumped his fist as he stepped off the mound and the several thousand Phillies fans who made the trip across the state stood and cheered.
 
“That feeling at the end of that inning, that’s why as relievers we play baseball,” he said. “That feeling. That’s the feeling we chase. The only way to get that feeling is to get out of a jam, so we invite those situations. It’s an amazing feeling.”
 
De Fratus had a 2.57 ERA before the West Coast trip. He came back east with a 4.50 ERA.
 
That’s what three straight awful appearances can do.
 
“Here’s a chance to redeem yourself, get it done,” he said. “I do feed off the fact that people have thought that they beat me. I’m not going to get angry, I just get it done.
 
“I’ve been beaten plenty of times in the minors and I got through it. So just see yourself through it. I’m going to go out there and I’m going to grind it out every time.”
 
Papelbon then worked a 1-2-3 ninth to earn his 16th save, and the Phillies handed the Pirates their first loss since June 19 in Cincinnati and evened their record at 4-4 on the 10-game road trip.
 
And the bullpen, lugging around an ungainly 4.60 ERA, had itself a rare effective if ugly line score: 3 1/3 innings, three hits, three walks and no runs.
 
“Yeah, we got it done,” Manuel said. “But it was kind of hard to watch.”
 
Manuel said he didn’t want to use Papelbon in the eighth but admitted, “It was tempting as hell.”
 
Pettitbone allowed only three hits in 5 2/3 but walked three and ran up a pitch count of 102 before running out of steam on a muggy day. Manuel yanked him after he allowed a solo homer to Garrett Jones with two outs in the sixth.
 
“They picked me up big time tonight,” Pettibone said of the 'pen. “Maybe the last couple of games haven’t gone their way, so it was good for them to get back on track.”
 
The Phils scored all their runs in the sixth on an RBI single by Ryan Howard, a sac fly by Domonic Brown and an RBI double by Delmon Young that scored Howard from first.
 
Howard said after the game his knee was quite sore after running the bases.
 
“It felt good to get out there and get a knock and pick the team up,” he said. “My knee hurts now.”

Pete Mackanin unloads on Phillies' bullpen after latest collapse

Pete Mackanin unloads on Phillies' bullpen after latest collapse

BOX SCORE

ATLANTA — The Phillies’ bullpen continued its ugly, late-season collapse on Tuesday night. It was tagged for six runs in a 7-6 loss to the Atlanta Braves. The Braves rallied for the tying and go-ahead runs in the bottom of the eighth inning (see Instant Replay).
 
The loss came two days after the bullpen gave up 14 earned runs in four innings in a 17-0 loss to the New York Mets on Sunday and it left manager Pete Mackanin more than a little bit frustrated.
 
“The bullpen has just not been doing the job,” Mackanin said.
 
Jerad Eickhoff gave up just one run (on a solo homer by Freddie Freeman) over four walk-free innings to open the game. He was up 6-1 after four innings when the rains came and stopped the game for an hour and 53 minutes.
 
With Eickhoff bounced by the weather, Mackanin had to go to his bullpen. He used four relievers — Severino Gonzalez, Luis Garcia, Joely Rodriguez and David Hernandez — and all gave up runs.
 
Phillies relievers have pitched 77 1/3 innings this month and allowed 69 earned runs for an ERA of 8.03. So that’s one more thing Matt Klentak has to fix this winter, along with the offense that Mackanin wants to see addressed (see story).
 
Ultimately, Hernandez took the loss when he gave up three hits and a run in the bottom of the eighth. The other run in the inning was charged to Rodriguez.
 
As unbelievable as it may sound with rosters being expanded in September, the Phillies played this game shorthanded.
 
They did not have reliever Edubray Ramos. He had a sore elbow, Mackanin said.
 
They did not have outfielder Peter Bourjos, who had gone home to be with his wife for the birth of their child.
 
They also did not have outfielder Tyler Goeddel, who is out with a concussion.
 
Not having Bourjos or Goeddel forced Mackanin to use Darin Ruf in left field after Roman Quinn went out with an oblique injury in the sixth inning. Ruf failed to make a catch on a long fly ball by Tyler Flowers to the gap in left-center. The non-play extended the eighth inning and fueled the Braves’ comeback.
 
“It should have been caught,” Mackanin said. “If Quinn's out there, he catches it. He wasn't out there.”
 
Hernandez was the only free agent that the Phillies signed to a major-league contract this winter. The Phillies signed him with an eye toward using him as the closer. But Hernandez struggled much of the season and slipped into the middle innings while Ramos, Hector Neris and Jeanmar Gomez rose to high-leverage roles.
 
Gomez lost the closer’s job last week and Mackanin was saving Neris to close out this game. That meant Hernandez had to pitch the eighth. He couldn’t protect the lead. He gave up the game-tying hit to Mallex Smith and the go-ahead hit to Emilio Bonafacio.
 
“Neris was going to close for us,” Mackanin said. “I thought about using him with two outs in the eighth. But, at some point, somebody else has to do a (bleeping) job. Somebody else has to (bleeping) step up. In two games now, every reliever I brought in has given up a (bleeping) run. That's unheard of.”
 
The bullpen’s unraveling threw cold (rain) water on Eickhoff’s solid start and Ryan Howard’s big night. Howard belted his 24th homer, a grand slam in the first inning, to highlight a 14-hit attack and help the Phils jump to a 6-0 lead.
 
“Eickhoff looked like he was having one of his best games and then the rain came. So that was our first disappointment,” Mackanin said. "Other than that, Howie swung the bat great. Hit that grand slam. We got 14 hits, but we stranded 12 runners. We have to keep adding on.”
 
Quinn had three of the Phillies’ 14 hits then added to his collection of injuries with the oblique strain that bounced him from the game in the sixth. He hurt himself taking a swing.
 
Oblique injuries generally keep a player sidelined for at least three weeks, so Quinn’s season is likely over. He missed six weeks with a similar injury at Double A Reading this summer. The 23-year-old outfielder came up from the minors on Sept. 11 and has been auditioning for a spot on next season’s opening day roster.
 
“It looks like it,” Mackanin said when asked if Quinn was done for what remains of the season.
 
Injuries have been a consistent hurdle for Quinn ever since he was selected in the second round of the 2011 draft. He has missed significant time with a ruptured Achilles tendon, a wrist injury that required surgery, a torn quad muscle and an oblique strain. Now he has another one.
 
“It’s the same one I hurt before,” Quinn said. “It’s frustrating.”
 
Right now, just about everything is frustrating with this team. Good thing there are only five games left.

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Best of MLB: Blue Jays beat Orioles in opener of AL wild-card showdown

Best of MLB: Blue Jays beat Orioles in opener of AL wild-card showdown

TORONTO -- Josh Donaldson hit a two-run homer, Aaron Sanchez struck out 10 and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-1 on Tuesday night in the opener of their AL wild-card showdown.

Ezequiel Carrera also homered as the Blue Jays won for the sixth time in eight games. They lead the wild-card standings by two games over the Orioles with five to play.

Baltimore began the day two games ahead of Detroit and Seattle for the league's final playoff spot.

Orioles slugger Chris Davis was ejected for arguing with plate umpire Will Little after striking out against Joe Biagini in the seventh, the third time in three at-bats Davis was caught looking. Baltimore manager Buck Showalter also was tossed after he came out to argue (see full recap).

Syndergaard, Mets pound grieving Marlins
MIAMI -- With time running out in the playoff race, the New York Mets set sympathy aside.

Noah Syndergaard struck out eight and allowed one run in six innings Tuesday night, and the Mets totaled 19 hits to beat the grieving Miami Marlins 12-1.

Jay Bruce and Yoenis Cespedes each hit his 31st homer for the Mets, who began the game with a half-game lead over the Giants in the battle for the first NL wild-card berth, with the Cardinals 1 1/2 games behind.

The game was the Marlins' second since the death of ace Jose Fernandez in a boating accident. One night after a heart-tugging victory over New York filled with tributes to their teammate, emotions were more subdued, and Miami's bats were too.

Syndergaard (14-9) had a lot to do with that. After missing a scheduled start Saturday with strep throat, he threw 93 pitches and lowered his ERA to 2.60, third-best in the majors. He'll return to pitch the regular-season finale Sunday at Philadelphia if needed (see full recap).

Cards beat Reds to tighten wild-card race
ST. LOUIS -- Playing with a heavy heart, Aledmys Diaz hit his first career grand slam and the St. Louis Cardinals finished with five home runs Tuesday night in a 12-5 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.

Chasing the Giants and Mets in a tight race for the two NL wild cards, St. Louis moved within a half-game of San Francisco for the league's final playoff spot -- pending the Giants' late game against Colorado.

New York, which beat Miami 12-1, leads the wild-card standings and remained 1 1/2 games ahead of the Cardinals.

Jhonny Peralta had a three-run homer and drove in four runs for the Cardinals, who had lost four of five. Matt Carpenter, Randal Grichuk and Matt Adams also homered (see full recap).