Phillies fail to support Lee in loss to Reds

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Phillies fail to support Lee in loss to Reds

BOX SCORE

CINCINNATI -- The Phillies are up to their frustrating old tricks again, not scoring enough runs to back solid pitching efforts from Cliff Lee.

Lee made 30 starts last season. The Phillies scored three or fewer runs in 20 of them.

So far this year, the run-support problem is even worse.

Lee has made three starts. The Phils have scored just two runs in two of those games. Lee was able to beat the Braves with that meager support in the third game of the season, but Monday night his strong effort against the Cincinnati Reds went for naught in a 4-2 loss (see Instant Replay).

“That’s baseball,” said Lee, who allowed just two runs in seven innings. “It happens.”

Cincinnati starter Bronson Arroyo joined Lee in a fast-moving pitchers’ duel. The right-hander didn’t allow a run for 7 2/3 innings until Chase Utley, getting a night off from the starting lineup, tied the game with a two-run pinch-hit homer with two outs in the top of the eighth.

Needing to keep things in check in the bottom of the inning, the Phillies put the ball in reliever Jeremy Horst’s hand, but that move didn’t work. Horst, who had started warming up when Lee was pinch-hit for, allowed a swinging-bunt hit and a flare double to right before Brandon Phillips put the Reds ahead with a two-run single against Mike Adams.

Adams was supposed to fix the Phillies’ leaky eighth inning, but he was not called upon to start the frame because Horst was warm and ready. Instead, Adams was brought in after Horst had issued an intentional walk to load the bases.

“Utley hit a home run with two outs,” manager Charlie Manuel explained. “We didn’t really have very much time to get someone in. Horst hadn’t pitched in five days and he was ready. Actually, with Adams, we’re using him a lot. I’m concerned about him. We were kind of hesitant [to use him]. Also, with the way their lineup was with left-handed hitters coming up at the top of the order, we wanted a lefty. When the guy hit the swinging bunt and then the flare into right field -- that broke everything loose. It wasn’t like Horst did badly. Actually, it was bad luck.”

After the Reds took the lead in the bottom of the eighth, it was ballgame time. Aroldis Chapman got the save. His final pitch was a 100-mph fastball by Ryan Howard.

The loss dropped the Phillies to 6-7.

The Reds are also 6-7.

The Phillies had just five hits in the game. Utley’s homer was the only extra-base hit.

Four games into this trip, the Phils have scored just eight runs. Maybe Carlos Ruiz and Delmon Young will help the offense when they are ready at the end of the month.

Leadoff man Ben Revere is down to .222 and his on-base percentage is a woeful .276. Revere could be moved to eighth when Ruiz and Young are ready.

While Revere has struggled lately at the plate, his defense remains top shelf. He made two sensational catches in the first three innings. The first was a running, twisting, diving, over-the-shoulder robbery of Todd Frazier in the second inning, the second a wall-climber on Ryan Hanigan in the third.

Lee called the catch on Frazier “the best I’ve seen in a while. He had to go up and out to get it. It was huge. It saved a run.”

Before the game, Phillies players watched television coverage of the horrific events in Boston where three people were killed in a bombing at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

Revere was so moved by the tragic event that he wrote "Pray For Boston" on a piece of tape on his glove. The glove had some magic in it during the game and Revere had seven putouts.

“I’d like to get a Gold Glove,” he said. “I’m busting my tail for that.”

Lee had a difficult inning in the seventh. He allowed two hits and his first walk of the season. He also threw a wild pitch that led to a run and made an error. With little run support, he couldn’t afford an inning like that. Utley eventually got him off the hook, but the Reds rallied against Horst and Adams to claim the win.

For Rhys Hoskins, it all started with that first home run

For Rhys Hoskins, it all started with that first home run

SAN FRANCISCO — All Rhys Hoskins needed was to get the first one.
 
That's the way power hitters are.
 
They will tell you they don't think about hitting home runs.
 
But they do.
 
"As much as I want to say I wasn't trying to get the first one out of the way, I think it's probably pretty obvious that's what it was," Hoskins said after the Phillies beat the San Francisco Giants, 5-2, Sunday (see game story).
 
He was referring to his first 12 big-league at-bats during the Phillies' last homestand. He went hitless in those at-bats before reaching base on a single in his 13th at-bat and heading to his native California for seven games on his first big-league road trip.
 
Hoskins delivered. He went 8 for 25 with eight RBIs on the seven-game trip. He homered twice in the first game of the trip and three more times before it ended, including on Saturday and Sunday in the Phillies' only two wins of the trip.
 
"I feel like I'm getting into better counts and the results showed this week," the 24-year-old said.
 
Manager Pete Mackanin said he was never worried about Hoskins being over his head.
 
"You know how that goes," he said. "You can't jump to conclusions after 20 at-bats. You might say he's hitting .220 (actually .237), but we can tell from his at-bats he's a much better hitter than that."
 
Hoskins hit 38 homers at Double A Reading last season and 29 more at Triple A Lehigh Valley before coming up earlier this month. After 11 games — and five homers — he feels more like himself.
 
"I just wanted to settle in the box and feel more comfortable in the box and realize it really is the same game, 60 feet, six inches, they still have to throw the ball over the plate," he said. "I think that has a lot to do with it."
 
Hoskins had two hits in Sunday's win, including a home run. He played first base, his natural position. Jorge Alfaro played there Saturday night as manager Pete Mackanin held slumping Tommy Joseph out of the lineup two days in a row. Joseph is hitting just .185 against left-handed pitching this season and Mackanin kept him away from lefties Ty Blach and Madison Bumgarner.
 
With a doubleheader Tuesday against Miami, and two righties pitching for the Marlins, Mackanin is sure to use Joseph in at least one of those games.
 
But how about beyond that? Alfaro has produced at the plate over the last two days and the team officials want to continue to see him. He was already slated to get time behind the plate, but first base has also become a place for him to get occasional at-bats, as it is for Hoskins, as well.
 
How is this all going to shake out?
 
Mackanin said Hoskins "most likely" would continue to get most of his reps in left field, where he's been OK, despite a couple of bad reads, for a relative newcomer to the position.
 
Then Mackanin added: "Let me have the day off (Monday) to think about it. We'll see how we can make this all work."

IronPigs rally to help Phillies end West Coast trip with 2 straight wins

IronPigs rally to help Phillies end West Coast trip with 2 straight wins

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SAN FRANCISCO — Ben Lively, his eyes wide before his eighth big-league start, looked around at his teammates moments before the game.
 
"Dude, this is a really familiar dugout," he told Rhys Hoskins.
 
Indeed. Six of the Phillies' nine starters Sunday afternoon at AT&T Park were recent teammates at Triple A Lehigh Valley. They recently graduated to the majors and on this day joined together in rallying for a 5-2 win over the San Francisco Giants as the Phils closed out a West Coast trip with two wins and five losses (see Instant Replay).
 
It was a very entertaining ball game for several reasons:
 
The Phillies came back from a run down in the eighth inning and scored three times on a succession of five straight singles against Giants reliever Hunter Strickland.
 
Closer Hector Neris pitched himself into a tight spot when he plunked Buster Posey with a first-pitch fastball to load the bases in the bottom of the eighth. Posey took exception with the pitch, said something to Neris and moaned about it to reporters after the game (see video).
 
And then there was the IronPigs. All of the recent additions from Triple A had a hand in the win. All five of the Phillies' runs were driven in by players recently promoted. In Saturday night's win, a cast of recent additions drove in 10 of the Phillies' 12 runs. So, newcomers drove in 15 of the Phillies' 17 runs the last two days.
 
"We were pretty talented down there and I think it's good for this organization to have that kind of burst of energy," Hoskins said. "Hopefully it carries over to the homestand."
 
The IronPigs' impact started with Lively, who was recalled before the start and delivered six innings of two-run ball — "just what we needed," manager Pete Mackanin said.
 
It continued with utility man Pedro Florimon starting in left field, throwing out a runner at the plate and driving in three runs, including the tie-breaking run in the eighth.
 
Jorge Alfaro started behind the plate and drove in the tying run with a base hit in the eighth after coming back from an 0-2 count.
 
In all, the Phillies had five straight one-out hits in that inning — by Hoskins, Maikel Franco, Alfaro, Nick Williams and Florimon. All but Franco was in Triple A until recently.
 
"It's awesome," Lively said. "Everyone is getting an opportunity. A lot of people are making the best of their opportunities. That fires me up more than anything."
 
Two others who had been at Lehigh Valley this season, Adam Morgan and Luis Garcia, chipped in with 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief.
 
Hoskins gave the Phillies a little breathing room in the ninth inning when he bashed his fifth homer in his first 11 games in the majors. All of them came on this trip to his home state with a slew of friends and family in the seats.
 
"I think we could have come away with a couple more wins, obviously, but we're feeling pretty good going home, split the series after dropping the first two," Hoskins said.
 
The wins were the Phillies' only two in the state of California this season. They went 2-11 in the land of the Double-Double.
 
The game was not without some drama. With two outs and runners on first and second in the bottom of the eighth, and the Phils clinging to a two-run lead, Mackanin summoned his closer, Neris, as the dangerous Posey — who had already singled and doubled — stepped in the box.
 
Neris' first pitch, a 95-mph fastball, hit Posey in the side. The usually mild-mannered Posey was angry and said something to Neris before cooler heads prevailed.
 
After the game, Posey was still angry.
 
"I'm pretty certain he hit me on purpose and it's just a shame because I wanted to compete in that at bat," Posey said. "I guess he didn’t feel he could get me out.
 
"It was a big spot. It would have been fun to hit."
 
Neris was incredulous when he heard what Posey said.
 
"Not a chance," he said when asked if he hit Posey on purpose. "I don't want to put the tying run on second base. I don't want to hit anybody in that situation."
 
Mackanin said there was no way Neris threw at Posey.
 
"If Hector hit him intentionally, I'm not real happy with Hector to put the tying run on second base and the go-ahead run on first," Mackanin said. "It doesn't make sense to me."