Phils dealt third straight loss by MLB-best Cards

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Phils dealt third straight loss by MLB-best Cards

BOX SCORE

ST. LOUIS — Opportunity keeps knocking for the Phillies. And they keep shooing it away like an unwelcome visitor.

The Phils blew another chance to pick up ground on NL East-leader Atlanta when they suffered a 4-1 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on Tuesday night (see Instant Replay).

With the trade deadline a week away and GM Ruben Amaro Jr. trying to decide whether to keep the team together or sell off players, the Phils have lost three games in a row to fall to 49-51. They are seven games behind the Braves, who lost for the third time in four games on Tuesday night. The Braves lost two of three over the weekend to the White Sox. Alas, the Phillies also lost two of three over the weekend.

“We’re two games under .500 and the team ahead of us keeps losing and we can’t gain no ground,” manager Charlie Manuel lamented after Tuesday night’s loss. “That’s tough.”

Manuel was quite downcast after the game.

His flawed team has scored one run in its last two games and it still has two left against the Cardinals, whose 60-37 record is the best in baseball. It gets no easier later in the week when the Phils travel to Detroit for three against the AL Central-leading Tigers.

“Yeah, we’re playing a good team and we’re getting ready to play another good team,” Manuel said. “But we’ve got to play good enough to win some games. We didn’t play good enough tonight. The Cardinals outplayed us.”

It’s no secret in the clubhouse that the clock is ticking on this club. The players see the scoreboard. They know Atlanta has struggled. They know the door has been left ajar. They know they have not taken advantage and that might make things easy on management as it ponders whether to buy or sell.

“It would be nice every time [the Braves] lose that we throw some wins up there to cut the deficit down,” Delmon Young said. “But we’ve got two and a half months, and if we could just cut a game a week, we’d be in first place by the end of the year.

“Unfortunately, we don’t know as players in the clubhouse how much time we have together, so we’re trying to win as many games as possible right now. Guys are busting their butts. Guys are getting here early and getting extra work in. We’ve just got to find a way from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. to have all the hard work pay off.”

Nothing paid off Tuesday night.

Rookie Cardinals right-hander Shelby Miller entered the game ranked 10th in the NL with a 2.92 ERA. He lowered that mark to 2.77 with six shutout innings. He allowed just three hits and a walk and struck out six. Miller would have gone deeper into the game had he not been bothered by a cramp in his calf.

Manuel was not happy with the approach of Phillies’ hitters against Miller. The Phillies’ hacking ways stood in stark contrast to the patient Cardinals, who racked up excellent at-bats with a lineup loaded with .300-plus hitters.

“He’s got a good arm,” Manuel said of Miller. “He’s got a big fastball. He gave us pitches to hit. He challenged us at times with his fastball.

“I think when we get against a guy like this we get a little anxious and we want to hit him so bad we chase balls out of the strike zone up and that gets us in trouble. If we make him bring the ball down and get a good ball to hit, that’s how you adjust to pitchers like that because they will give you some fastballs to hit. If you swing at the high ones and they have command, more than likely they’ll keep feeding them and walk you up the ladder.

“We just chased a lot of balls up.”

By contrast, the Cardinals’ hitters worked rookie Jonathan Pettibone for 10 baserunners in five innings.

The Cards scored a single run in the first inning and two in the fourth (on four hits) against Pettibone.

“They worked him,” Manuel said. “They had a lot of baserunners. He wiggled out of some trouble and hung in there. They made him pitch and were able to score three runs off him. He did a good job holding them to three runs, I thought. At the same time, we didn’t get him any runs.”

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

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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.