Phillies walk on wild side in sloppy loss to Nats

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Phillies walk on wild side in sloppy loss to Nats

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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: Pirates spoil Rich Hill's no-hitter with walk-off HR in 10th inning

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Best of MLB: Pirates spoil Rich Hill's no-hitter with walk-off HR in 10th inning

PITTSBURGH -- Dodgers lefty Rich Hill lost his perfect game on an error in the ninth inning, then lost his no-hitter on a leadoff home run in the 10th by Josh Harrison that sent the Pittsburgh Pirates over Los Angeles 1-0 Wednesday night.

Hill became the first pitcher since Pedro Martinez in 1995 to take a no-hit try into extra innings.

The Pirates didn't have a runner until Jordy Mercer led off the ninth with a sharp grounder that third baseman Logan Forsythe misplayed for an error. Hill retired the next three batters.

Hill (9-5) came back out for the 10th and Harrison sent his 99th pitch of the night into the first row of seats in left field, just out of the reach of Los Angeles leftfielder Curtis Granderson. Hill struck out 10 without a walk.

Juan Nicasio (2-5) picked up the win after working the top of the 10th (see full recap).

Orioles regroup after Britton’s save streak ends at 60
BALTIMORE -- Zach Britton's AL-record run of converting 60 straight save attempts ended amid the evening shadows of Camden Yards, when the Orioles closer blew a two-run lead and failed to get out of the ninth inning in a game Baltimore ultimately won in the 12th, 8-7 over the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday.

Baltimore led 7-5 heading into the ninth when Britton entered to seal the victory, just as he had been doing successfully since the final days of the 2015 season. On this occasion, however, the left-hander gave up three straight hits before a sacrifice fly by Matt Joyce tied it.

Following a walk to Khris Davis, Britton was replaced by Miguel Castro (3-1), who quelled the uprising.

Manny Machado led off the 12th with a home run off Simon Castro (1-2) to end a game that lasted 4 hours, 20 minutes.

Britton's streak began on Oct. 1, 2015, extended through all of last season and went for 11 more saves this year. He had not blown a save since Sept. 20, 2015, at Tampa Bay.

Britton finished well short of Eric Gagne's major league mark of 84, set from 2002-04 (see full recap).

Schwarber, Cubs continue surge with win over Reds
CINCINNATI -- Kyle Schwarber hit a three-run homer in the ballpark near his home, Tommy La Stella added a two-run shot while subbing for Kris Bryant, and the Chicago Cubs kept their second-half surge going with a 9-3 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday night.

The defending World Series champions have won eight of 10. They are 11 games over .500 for the first time this season and have their biggest lead in the NL Central, 3 1/2 games ahead of Milwaukee.

Left-hander Mike Montgomery (4-6) allowed four hits in six shutout innings, filling in for Jon Lester in the rotation. Joey Votto, Eugenio Suarez and Scott Schebler homered in the ninth for the Reds (see full recap).

Instant Replay: Phillies 8, Marlins 0

Instant Replay: Phillies 8, Marlins 0

BOX SCORE

A trio of rookies stepped up and led the Phillies to an 8-0 win over the Miami Marlins at Citizens Bank Park on Wednesday night.

Mark Leiter Jr. spun a gem on the mound, Nick Williams reached base three times and scored three runs and Rhys Hoskins drove in five runs with a homer and a double.

One night earlier, the Marlins pounded out 27 hits and scored 19 runs in sweeping a doubleheader from the Phillies.

The shutout was the Phillies' fourth of the season. Their majors-worst record stands at 46-79.

Starting pitching report
In his fifth big-league start, Leiter pitched seven shutout innings. He held the Marlins hitless for the first five innings. The only hit he gave up was a leadoff double to Miguel Rojas in the sixth. Leiter then got three quick outs. The 26-year-old right-hander walked two and struck out five. All of the strikeouts came in the first two innings.

Marlins lefty Justin Nicolino was tagged for eight hits and six runs in 2 1/3 innings.

Bullpen report
Luis Garcia and Hector Neris completed the shutout.

At the plate
The Phillies had 11 hits.

Williams singled with two outs in the first inning and scored on an RBI double by Tommy Joseph. The Phillies hit for the cycle in the third inning and scored five runs. Freddy Galvis and Jorge Alfaro had RBI hits. Hoskins had the big blow, a three-run homer into the second deck above left field. Three innings later, Hoskins smacked a two-run double with two outs. He has seven homers and 16 RBIs since joining the club. All of the homers have come in the last 10 games.

The Marlins had just two hits.

Transaction
The Phillies added right-hander Drew Anderson from Triple A Lehigh Valley as bullpen insurance. He will likely return to Triple A on Thursday. Outfielder Cameron Perkins was sent to Triple A.

The Phillies signed veteran pitcher Henderson Alvarez to a minor-league contract. He is scheduled to pitch Friday for Lehigh Valley.

Up next
The series concludes on Thursday afternoon. Jake Thompson (1-1, 4.20) will be added to the roster and pitch for the Phillies against Marlins right-hander and former Phillie Vance Worley (2-3, 4.82).

The defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs comes to town to start a three-game series on Friday night.