Slumping Phillies lack timely hits in loss to Cards

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Slumping Phillies lack timely hits in loss to Cards

BOX SCORE

The Phillies threw a twist into their lingering offensive slump Thursday night.

Instead of just sputtering offensively all night, this time they actually got a bunch of hits but couldn’t get big hits when they needed them.

After managing just four runs and 13 hits in three losses in Cincinnati, the Phillies hammered out 13 hits Thursday night against former Cy Young runner-up Adam Wainright and two Cards relievers. But they left men on base inning after inning, stranded runners in key spots and lost their fourth straight game, 4-3, to the Cards at Citizens Bank Park (see Instant Replay).

“As long as we keep getting them, eventually it’ll come around,” third baseman Michael Young said. “As long as we have a good approach, eventually we’ll start to find some holes in big spots.”

The Phils have now scored three or fewer runs in seven straight games for only the fifth time since 1976.

They fell to 6-10, their worst record after 16 games since they were 5-11 in 2007.

“We hit the ball good,” manager Charlie Manuel said. “We had runners on base. That’s the best we’ve hit in a while. We had some good chances, we just couldn’t cash in. We didn’t get the big hit when we had chances.”

The Phillies wasted a bunch of good opportunities. Two on with one out in the fourth. Two on with two outs in the eighth. Then first and third with nobody out in the bottom of the ninth, a jam reliever Edward Mujica worked out of by getting Kevin Frandsen to ground out, striking out Jimmy Rollins and getting Freddy Galvis to bounce out.

“I felt our approach was a little better,” Young said. “But we have to make sure that every positive turns into a win.”

Ryan Howard had three hits, and Chase Utley, Galvis and Erik Kratz had two apiece.

This was the first time since Oct. 1, 2009 in a 5-3 loss to the Astros that the Phillies scored three or fewer runs despite 13 or more hits.

The Phillies also failed to draw a walk for the fourth consecutive game, matching the longest such streak by any major-league team in 93 years. They’ve sent 135 batters in a row to the plate without a walk.

The Phillies’ latest frustrating offensive performance wasted a solid outing by Cole Hamels, who went seven innings, allowing five hits and three runs. He struck out eight and walked two.

Two of the three runs he allowed were tainted, coming on a routine fly ball that John Mayberry turned into a double and then a two-run double by Yadier Molina down the right-field line in the fourth that appeared to be foul.

Mayberry simply fell down ranging to his right while tracking down Allen Craig’s fly ball to right-center.

“I was going back on it and and looked back and the ball was in the lights,” Mayberry said. “By the time I [found it], my cleat kind of gave out, and I wasn’t able to recover and make the break.”

Craig’s double gave the Cards second and third with no outs, and Molina’s double gave the Cards a 2-0 lead.

“It kind of looked like the ball did not hit the line,” Manuel said. “It looked like it was foul. It was very, very close, but it looked like it was a foul ball.”

Two bad breaks for Hamels, but he didn’t use either one as an excuse.

“It comes with baseball,” said Hamels, winless after four starts for the first time since 2009. “There’s going to be situations you have to battle through, and it tonight it was a couple poorly executed pitches. … You have to put it past you and try to minimize runs, and I wasn’t able to do that as well as I would have liked.

“I felt really good tonight. Everything was working well. I was able to execute most of my pitches, but a few got away and didn’t go where you planned, and they came at the wrong time. When I’m making mistakes, they’re coming at the wrong time right now. Sometimes you have to be better than good to win games. You have to be great.”

The Phillies tied the game at 2-all in the sixth on doubles by Rollins, back in the leadoff spot for the first time this year, and Galvis, making his first career start in the outfield, and a base hit by Utley. They tied it at 3-all in the seventh on Kratz’s RBI single.

But Carlos Beltran’s 336th career home run, a solo shot just over the left-field wall off Mike Adams in the top of the eighth, was the game-winner.

“He’s a good hitter, and I left one up just enough where he could get a pretty good pass on it,” Adams said. “He struck it well. I thought maybe it might be to the warning track or off the wall, but it stayed up and got out.”

With the Braves winning again, the Phillies dropped 7½ games out of first place.

“I mean, they’re hot, they’re a good team,” Ben Revere said of the 13-2 Braves. “They have good pitching, good hitting, but we’re going to get hot, and when we start rolling, we’re going to be a tough team to beat also. We’re going to be up there with them, I guarantee that.

“We’ve got a good enough ball club to compete for a championship. I believe in this squad.”

Jeremy Hellickson set to pitch Saturday — unless he's traded

Jeremy Hellickson set to pitch Saturday — unless he's traded

ATLANTA — Even with the Miami Marlins having filled their need for starting pitching, there remains significant interest in Phillies starter Jeremy Hellickson, according to major league sources.

The Phillies have received offers for the 29-year-old right-hander, but none that they have deemed worthy of pulling the trigger on.

Hellickson is scheduled to make his 22nd start for the club on Saturday night. Will he make that start? Time will tell. Talks between the Phillies and interested clubs are ongoing.

Hellickson is coming off two strong starts in which he allowed just six hits and one run in 14 innings against the Marlins. Another strong start Saturday could add more luster to Hellickson’s stretch-run value and bring the Phillies the package they are seeking. The trade deadline is Monday at 4 p.m.

Miami had interest in Hellickson before making a deal to acquire starters Andrew Cashner and Colin Rea from San Diego in a seven-player trade Friday (see story).

Hellickson is viewed by industry insiders as being a fallback option for a number of teams. Demand for him could grow as trades are made and the starting pitching market thins as Monday’s deadline approaches.

Baltimore, Toronto, Texas, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Houston are among teams looking to add starting pitching.

Though there’s no guarantee that Hellickson will be moved, he is the most likely Phillie to go. Reliever David Hernandez is next on the list. A number of teams are looking for relief help. The feeling around baseball is that the Phils could move Hernandez before Monday’s deadline, but the return would only be marginal.

The Phillies have received some interest in closer Jeanmar Gomez, but not to the degree one might expect for someone with 27 saves. Because Gomez lacks power stuff, rival teams do not view him as a closer on a contending team.

FOX Sports reports that the Rangers have interest in right-hander Vince Velasquez, but the Phils would have to be blown away to move the 24-year-old right-hander. Velasquez started for the Phillies on Friday night.

Tonight's lineup: Struggling Rupp back behind the plate for Phillies

Tonight's lineup: Struggling Rupp back behind the plate for Phillies

After scoring five first-inning runs on their way to a 7-5 win against the Braves on Thursday, Pete Mackanin decided not to tinker with the Phillies' lineup too much.

In fact, the only change will be at catcher. The struggling Cameron Rupp will get the start on Friday and bat sixth after Carlos Ruiz was behind the plate on Thursday. Rupp, who was one of the few bright spots for the offense in the first half, is just 5 for 31 since the All-Star break. On the season, Rupp is still batting .271 with 10 homers and 29 RBIs.

Aaron Altherr came off the DL with a bang, tallying three hits, including a two-run homer on Thursday. Mackanin has said Altherr will get a long look in right field and Thursday night was a glimpse of why. 

With Altherr's regular presence in the lineup, Cody Asche has been put on notice. After going on a tear from early June to early July, Asche is batting .094 (5 for 53) in his last 17 games. With Altherr and Odubel Herrera entrenched in right and center, Asche will have to get hot to stave off prospect Nick Williams, who seems to be finding his groove at Lehigh Valley.

Here is tonight's lineup:
1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Odubel Herrera, CF
3. Maikel Franco, 3B
4. Tommy Joseph, 1B
5. Aaron Altherr, RF
6. Cameron Rupp, C
7. Cody Asche, LF
8. Freddy Galvis, SS
9. Vince Velasquez, P

Marlins acquire SP Andrew Cashner from Padres

Marlins acquire SP Andrew Cashner from Padres

MIAMI -- The Miami Marlins acquired the pitching reinforcements they sought in a trade that cost them four players, including two minor leaguers.

Right-handers Andrew Cashner and Colin Rea were sent to Miami by the San Diego Padres in a seven-player deal.

The Marlins, eager to shore up their rotation for a playoff push, will also receive pitching prospect Tayron Guerrero for right-handers Jarred Cosart and Carter Capps and two minor leaguers, pitching prospect Luis Castillo and first baseman Josh Naylor.

Cashner is 4-7 this year with a 4.76 ERA in 16 starts, and has a career record of 30-49 with a 3.73 ERA in seven seasons. Rea, who is in his second major league season, is 5-5 with a 4.98 ERA in 19 games this year.

Cashner has a $7.15 million contract and becomes a free agent after this season. Rea, 26, has a salary of $510,200 and is under team control through 2018.

The prize in the deal for the Padres might be Naylor, 19, a left-handed power hitter taken by the Marlins in the first round of the 2015 draft. He is batting .269 with nine home runs this year for Single-A Greensboro.

Cosart went 13-11 in 2014 with Houston and Miami but has struggled since. This year he's 0-1 with a 5.95 ERA in four starts with the Marlins, and 3-4 with a 4.09 ERA in 10 starts for Triple-A New Orleans.

Capps, a hard-throwing reliever, underwent Tommy John surgery in March and is expected to be ready for opening day 2017.

The Marlins are in contention for their first playoff berth since 2003 despite a shaky rotation. Aside from ace Jose Fernandez, their starters are 23-24 with an ERA of 4.40.

Miami's rotation was further depleted last week when left-hander Wei-Yin Chen went on the disabled list because of a sprained elbow. Cashner and Rea will join Fernandez, Tom Koehler and Adam Conley.

The trade is the second between the teams this summer. In June, the Marlins acquired All-Star reliever Fernando Rodney for a minor league pitcher.