Phillies walk on wild side in sloppy loss to Nats

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Phillies walk on wild side in sloppy loss to Nats

BOX SCORE

With just 28,826 in the house Tuesday night, the Phillies had their lowest attendance since the first week of the 2008 season.

Back then the Phillies were in the infancy of a season that would end with a World Series title. Now, they are in the final stages of what will be their first losing season since 2002.

Back then a championship core was beginning to come to flower. Now, the last vestiges of that nucleus are getting nights off so some young players can gain experience and be evaluated to determine if they fit on future rosters.

Those who stayed away from Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday night didn’t miss a whole lot.

On a night when their pitchers had a load of trouble throwing strikes, the Phillies suffered a 9-6 loss to the Washington Nationals (see Instant Replay).

“It was a frustrating game on the pitching side,” interim manager Ryne Sandberg said. “There were a lot of pitches and a lot of walks. The walks gave them baserunners and they answered with hits.”

Phillies pitchers walked nine batters and hit another.

They threw 180 pitches. Just 88 of them were strikes.

No wonder the game lasted three hours, 38 minutes. It was the longest nine-inning game of the season.

The Nationals didn’t exactly play clean ball, either. They made three errors, leading manager Davey Johnson to say, “That was an ugly game, one of the ugliest I’ve seen.”

With Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins getting a night off from the starting lineup (both pinch-hit late in the game), Sandberg -- and the folks up in the executive box -- went into full evaluation mode for this one.

They had to like what they saw from rookie third baseman Cody Asche, who had three hits, including a line-drive homer into the right-field seats. The young middle-infield tandem of Freddy Galvis and Cesar Hernandez looked pretty good in the field, too. They turned a blink-of-the-eye double play in the seventh.

Sandberg and the big cheeses upstairs could not have liked what they saw from rookie starting pitcher Ethan Martin. The 24-year-old right-hander has a bazooka for an arm, but control is major issue. He lasted just 4 2/3 innings, walked five and hit a batter. He allowed a three-run homer to Wilson Ramos in the second inning. The homer was preceded by a hit batsman and a walk. Later in the game, Martin walked home a run on four pitches. He was one of two Phillies’ pitchers to do that.

In seven big-league starts, Martin is 2-4 with a 6.90 ERA. He has walked 21 in 30 innings.

“It’s frustrating because I have one or two good innings every start,” Martin said. “I just haven’t been able to keep it going.”

At this stage of the season, the Phillies are likely to keep running Martin out there as they try to determine whether he has a place on the 2014 pitching staff. Still to be determined is whether Martin’s future is as a starter or a reliever (see story). Either way, he needs to throw more strikes or he’ll be starting or relieving in the minors.

“I want to be a starter," Martin said, "but wherever they put me I’ll do the best I can.”

After Martin, the Phils used five relievers, all of which spent time in Triple A this season. The bullpen allowed seven hits and four walks.

There could be more of these nights as this month plays out. Sandberg has made it clear that he wants to look at some younger players. That’s why he started Galvis at shortstop on the day he arrived from Triple A and Hernandez at second.

“It’s all about getting a look and evaluating and seeing who is a fit for 2014,” Sandberg said. “The only way to do that is to get them out there. All of them will get a chance to show what they can do.”

Sandberg will keep trotting Asche and Darin Ruf out as regulars. Both could be just that next season. He will try to get Galvis and Hernandez as many reps as possible because both could be fits on the bench next season. If Sandberg gets the full-time manager’s job, he will use his bench. Charlie Manuel was known for riding his regulars.

“I believe with a long season, you need the best quality bench guys you can have,” he said.

A few strike-throwers would be nice, too.

Best of MLB: Indians storm back with 13 unanswered runs in win over Rangers

Best of MLB: Indians storm back with 13 unanswered runs in win over Rangers

CLEVELAND -- Francisco Lindor, Lonnie Chisenhall and Carlos Santana each had three RBIs to help the Cleveland Indians rally from a seven-run deficit and beat the Texas Rangers 15-9 on Monday night after manager Terry Francona left the game because he wasn't feeling well.

The Indians came back after trailing 9-2 in the fourth inning to avoid their first four-game losing streak since 2015.

Cleveland did not provide any other details about Francona, who presented Rangers first baseman and former Indian Mike Napoli with his American League Championship ring before the game. Bench coach Brad Mills came out to fetch starter Carlos Carrasco in the fourth inning.

The Indians scored a run in the fourth, four in the fifth, took the lead with five in the sixth and added three in the seventh.

Bryan Shaw (2-2) pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings for the win. Tanner Scheppers (0-1) allowed all three batters he faced to reach the base (see full recap).

Cubs hold off Nationals for win
WASHINGTON -- Wade Davis struck out big league batting leader Ryan Zimmerman with runners on second and third to end Washington's ninth-inning rally, and the Chicago Cubs held off the Nationals 5-4 Monday night.

In jeopardy of being shut out for the first time this season, the NL East-leading Nationals scored four times in the ninth. Their comeback began against Hector Rondon and continued when Davis entered.

With Washington down 5-3, Bryce Harper's single loaded the bases with two outs. Davis threw a wild pitch that scored a run before striking out a swinging Zimmerman, who's hitting .344. The final pitch bounced, and catcher Willson Contreras zipped a low throw to first baseman Anthony Rizzo to close out the victory.

Contreras hit a leadoff home run in his first career game-opening at-bat and Eddie Butler (4-2) worked five scoreless innings to keep the Cubs ahead (see full recap).

Sale strikes out 9 in Red Sox victory
BOSTON -- Chris Sale pitched 6 1/3 overpowering innings with nine strikeouts, Mitch Moreland hit a solo homer for the third straight game and the Boston Red Sox beat the Minnesota Twins 4-1 on Monday in a matchup of two of the AL's top teams.

Dustin Pedroia had two hits and drove in a run and Moreland added a sacrifice for Boston, which kept pace with the New York Yankees atop the East.

Coming off a three-game sweep in Cleveland that had jumped them over the Indians into first in the Central, the Twins' offense was stymied by Sale and three relievers.

Sale (10-3) gave up one run and four hits, increasing his major-league strikeout total to 155. Craig Kimbrel pitched the ninth for his 21st save.

Jose Berrios (7-2) allowed four runs on eight hits in 6 1/3 innings. Chris Gimenez had a solo homer for Minnesota (see full recap).

Sources: Pete Mackanin fined Odubel Herrera for incident in Saturday's game

Sources: Pete Mackanin fined Odubel Herrera for incident in Saturday's game

PHOENIX -- Early Sunday morning, Odubel Herrera was summoned into manager Pete Mackanin's office for a chat.

It wasn't the first time it has happened this season.

But it was the first time this happened:

Mackanin, according to sources, fined Herrera an undisclosed amount of money stemming from an incident in the previous night's game.

The amount of the fine is not known, but it definitely wasn't one of the $1 fines that Mackanin hands out for trivial missteps in the team's kangaroo court. 

This was a disciplinary action.

In Saturday night's game against Arizona, Herrera was caught trying to steal second base for the third out in the top of the sixth inning with the Phillies trailing, 3-2, in what became a 9-2 loss. Herrera took off on pitcher Robbie Ray's first move and was caught in a play that was scored 1-3-4.

The problem wasn’t as much Herrera getting caught — though that hurt in a close game — it was that Mackanin had put the red light on Herrera after he'd reached first base on a two-out single. Herrera often has a green light, but in this case Mackanin killed it because he feared an open first base would have resulted in Arizona walking No. 8 hitter Cameron Rupp to get to the pitcher's spot.

Mackanin would not confirm or deny the fine when asked about it Monday. After a moment of silence, all he would say was, "Base running matters." He then walked away.

Herrera's play this season has been occasionally amazing and often frustrating. He is hitting .333 (33 for 99) with a majors-high 13 doubles in the month of June and leads the Phillies with 75 hits and 31 extra-base hits for the season. 

But there have been times when Herrera has lacked focus, such as last week when he ran through a stop sign at third base in a close game and was picked off third base in another. In Monday's series finale in Phoenix, a 6-1 loss, he struck out three times. He made no effort to run to first base on a dropped third strike in the first inning.

Herrera signed a five-year, $30.5 million contract with the Phillies over the winter. Manager fines are generally just a few hundred dollars and are donated to charity so the one levied by Mackanin won't break Herrera. Nonetheless, it’s noteworthy that Mackanin was moved to such an action.