Phillies edged by Mets as drama, ejection kick off season series

Phillies edged by Mets as drama, ejection kick off season series

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The New York Mets hit 34 home runs in 19 games against the Phillies last season.

The most dramatic one came late at night on Sept. 22 when Asdrubal Cabrera smoked a three-run, walk-off homer against Edubray Ramos to give the Mets a 9-8 win in 11 innings at Citi Field.

Cabrera celebrated like a lottery winner as the ball jetted through the New York City night. He delivered a two-handed bat flip and raised his arms in triumph as Ramos began the lonely walk to the Phillies clubhouse after what turned out to be his final pitch of the 2016 season.

Ramos must have stewed about Cabrera's home run and reaction all winter because when he came face to face with Cabrera as the Mets and Phillies renewed their rivalry on Monday night, he did something about it.

Something that manager Pete Mackanin did not like.

Something that contributed to the Phillies' losing, 4-3, to the Mets (see Instant Replay).

With one out in the eighth inning of a tie ballgame, Ramos fired a 96-mph fastball over Cabrera's head. Cabrera was stunned. He straightened up, glared at Ramos and shouted, "What the hell are your doing?" Tempers began to simmer and Mackanin was actually ejected from the game. But order was restored quickly and Ramos continued to pitch to Cabrera with a warning from the umpire. Ramos ended up walking Cabrera and two batters later Jay Bruce swatted a two-run homer against Joely Rodriguez to give the Mets a 4-2 lead. Brock Stassi's first big-league hit, a solo homer in the ninth, tightened the score, and the Phils had the tying run at the plate before Mets closer Addison Reed retired Cesar Hernandez and Howie Kendrick to end the game.

It was the Mets' 27th win over the Phillies in 39 games since the start of the 2015 season.

After the game, Mackanin was critical of Ramos.

"There might have been [some history between the two]," Mackanin said. "There probably was. But I don't think about that over the course of the game. I'm trying to win the game. If he did, in fact, do that intentionally for whatever reason, we don't play that way. I don't play that way. It's inappropriate, especially in a tie game in the eighth inning."

Through a team translator, Ramos said the pitch "got away" and was not intentional. He said the home run that Cabrera hit last year was "in the past." Asked if Cabrera's celebratory reaction at the time upset him, Ramos admitted, "Yeah, a little, but again that was last year."

Ramos and Cabrera are both from Venezuela, but don't know each other.

In fact, after the game, Cabrera said he did not even know Ramos was the same guy he hit his walk-off homer against last September.

"I just found out now," Cabrera said in the postgame clubhouse.

"What happened last year was last year. I think when you hit a homer to win the game … I just enjoyed that homer. If you want to hit somebody, you've got to make sure to throw the ball down, not to the head."

Mackanin said he would speak with Ramos on Tuesday.

Given the skipper's distaste for Ramos' actions, he probably won't tell the pitcher the next time he decides to make a statement, he can't walk the hitter. Walks hurt the Phils in this one. There was the one to Cabrera that preceded Bruce's tie-breaking homer in the eighth. And there was one to Bruce by Jerad Eickhoff that turned into the tying run in the seventh.

Eickhoff pitched another strong game -- seven innings, two runs -- and got little run support. He gave up a solo home run to Bruce in the fourth inning. That home run cut the Phils' lead in half. They scored twice against Jacob deGrom in the first inning and were looking at more until Stassi grounded into a 1-2-3 double play with the bases loaded.

"It would've been nice to [hit my first homer] in the first inning, for sure, and blow this thing open," Stassi said. "I'd never seen deGrom and he threw me a good changeup."

The Phillies and Mets play 18 more times this season, including Tuesday and Wednesday night, and three times next week in New York.

Ramos' message pitch that he says wasn't a message pitch surely fired up the Mets on Monday night. Will the heat linger?

"Of course it's going to fire them up," Phillies catcher Cameron Rupp said. "But it needs to go away now."

Instant Replay: Dodgers 6, Phillies 5

Instant Replay: Dodgers 6, Phillies 5

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LOS ANGELES — The Phillies suffered a gut-wrenching 6-5 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday night.

The Phillies took a 5-2 lead into the bottom of the ninth inning but the Dodgers tied the game on three straight, no-out solo homers against Hector Neris.

The Dodgers got two more hits in the inning before Adrian Gonzalez won it with a two-out RBI infield hit against Joely Rodriguez.

Phillies manager Pete Mackanin stacked his lineup with lefty hitters and it paid off as Brock Stassi, Daniel Nava and Andrew Knapp accounted for five RBIs. But they all went by the wayside in one quick, disastrous inning.

The Phils have lost two in a row.

And this one was bad.

Starting pitching report
Zach Eflin held the Dodgers to four hits and two runs over seven walk-free innings. Both of the runs came on solo homers, one in the first inning and one in the seventh. Otherwise, Eflin retired 11 hitters by groundout and four by strikeout.

Eflin has given up just four earned runs in 19 innings over three starts this season. He has walked just three.

Brandon McCarthy gave up a season-high four runs on eight hits and a walk.

Bullpen report
Joaquin Benoit struck out Yasmani Grandal, the potential tying run, with two men on base to end the eighth inning.

Neris blew the save and took the loss.

At the plate
Stassi's second homer of the season, a three-run shot to left-center off McCarthy in the fourth, gave the Phils a 3-1 lead. He started at first in place of slumping Tommy Joseph.

Knapp started at catcher in place of Cameron Rupp. He responded with a single, double and home run. The homer was his first in the majors.

Andrew Toles led off the bottom of the first with a solo homer for the Dodgers. Rookie Cody Bellinger added a homer in the seventh.

Yasiel Puig, Bellinger and Justin Turner hit consecutive solo homers with no outs in the ninth to tie the game.

In the field
Odubel Herrera made a long run and a terrific lunging catch to take away extra bases from Puig in the fourth.

Chase Utley made an error at second base for the Dodgers.

Health check
Aaron Nola's back is still an issue. Howie Kendrick remains on the DL with an oblique injury, but he could be an option at first base when he returns if Joseph's bat continues to slumber (see story).

Up next
The three-game series concludes on Sunday afternoon. Nick Pivetta will make his major-league debut for the Phillies. He will face Dodgers lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu (0-4, 4.64).

The Phillies acquired Pivetta in the trade that sent Jonathan Papelbon to Washington in July 2015. He was 3-0 with a 1.42 ERA, 24 strikeouts and just two walks in three starts at Triple A before being called up.

Reliever Luis Garcia was optioned to Triple A Lehigh Valley after Saturday night's game to make room for Pivetta.

Phillies Notes: A setback for Aaron Nola? Howie Kendrick an option at first base?

Phillies Notes: A setback for Aaron Nola? Howie Kendrick an option at first base?

LOS ANGELES — Aaron Nola is eligible to come off the disabled list on Monday, but that's not going to happen.

Phillies manager Pete Mackanin on Saturday indicated that the pitcher's recovery from a lower back strain was not going as smoothly as hoped.

Did Nola experience a setback?

"If you want to call it that," Mackanin said.

Nola threw a bullpen session on Friday and, according to Mackanin, did not bounce back as well as hoped.

"After he completed it, he had some symptoms, some soreness or tightness, I guess," Mackanin said. "It was decided he will not make his start on Monday. He will be reevaluated to determine his next bullpen.

"A couple of days ago he said he felt great and then [Friday] not so great. He's improving but he's not 100 percent. There's something bugging him. We're just going to take it day to day. We're being cautious with him this early in the season."

Nola experienced soreness in his lower back after his last start, April 20 against the Mets. The Phils have been filling the opening on their pitching staff with reliever Mark Leiter Jr. Nick Pivetta will be activated on Sunday and make his major-league debut with a start against the Dodgers.

Kendrick works at first base
First baseman Tommy Joseph and catcher Cameron Rupp, both hitting under .200, were not in the starting lineup on Saturday night as Mackanin went heavy on lefty hitters against Dodgers' righty Brandon McCarthy.

Mackanin stressed that he doesn't like to make judgments on hitters until they get around the 100 at-bat mark — Joseph has 63; Rupp 50 — but it's worth noting that first baseman Rhys Hoskins and catcher Jorge Alfaro are both off to hot starts at Triple A and could be eventual replacements if the club looks for more production.

There also could be another option brewing at first base.

Howie Kendrick has worked at first base during batting practice the last two days. On Friday, he merely tracked balls off the bat and worked on first-step breaks. He did so with a regular fielder's glove.

But on Saturday, Kendrick brought his first baseman's mitt to the field. He took some groundballs and throws from across the diamond.

This stuff doesn't happen just by accident.

Over an 11-season career, Kendrick has played in 89 games at first base. He opened the season as the Phillies' leftfielder and hit .333 (13 for 39) with an .883 OPS before suffering an oblique injury two weeks ago in Washington. Kendrick probably needs at least another week of recovery time before coming off the disabled list, but it's now reasonable to wonder if he will go back to left field or get time at first base when he returns. Using Kendrick at first would allow the Phillies to keep Aaron Altherr's bat in the lineup in left field.

Joseph can have a say in all this if he gets his bat going. He is hitting .190 (12 for 63) with just a .505 OPS.

Last May, it was Joseph who earned his way to the majors after his hot start in Triple A coincided with Ryan Howard and Darin Ruf struggling in the majors. Joseph got 347 plate appearances in the majors last season and hit .257 with 21 homers, 47 RBIs and a .813 OPS.