LOS ANGELES — Hold your thumb and index finger about an inch apart.
That's how close Jerad Eickhoff came to pitching an excellent ballgame on Friday night.
The Phillies' six-game winning streak came to an end in a 5-3 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers (see Instant Replay).
Eickhoff took the loss, but he and his team might have had a different fate if the right-hander could have finished off innings more efficiently.
Eickhoff allowed the leadoff man to reach base in just one of six frames and he retired the first two batters four times. However, Eickhoff allowed nine baserunners with two outs and that was his downfall on an unusually windy night in Chavez Ravine.
Simple. Eickhoff didn't have his trusty sidekick with him.
He didn't have his curveball.
"It just comes down to the curveball," he said. "I had it in the first inning and I just couldn't find that release point after that. I struggled with it.
"I was able to keep them off balance with my slider and by locating the fastball. Eight of their hits were singles and that's frustrating.
"But yeah, just the curveball. I couldn't put them away."
Seven of the nine hits that Eickhoff gave up came with two outs. He also issued two two-out walks. The Dodgers scored five runs against Eickhoff in 5 2/3 innings and four of them came with two outs. One of the four came on a wild pitch by Eickhoff. The wild pitch was a curveball that got away.
Perhaps the most frustrating sequence of the game for Eickhoff came in the fourth inning when Cody Bellinger beat the shift with a two-out bunt single then scored when No. 8 hitter Kike Hernandez lined a double over leftfielder Aaron Altherr's head to tie the game at 2-2. Altherr just missed making a running catch as the ball ticked off his glove as he raced back to the wall.
Also frustrating was the sixth inning. Eickhoff got the first two outs before allowing a single and a walk. Mackanin went to reliever Luis Garcia and Justin Turner tagged him for a two-run double as the Dodgers put the game away.
"You get two outs, you want to put them away," Eickhoff said. "You want to get the guys back in the dugout and I couldn't do it today.
"My curveball was either coming out early or I'd adjust, grip it a little tighter and I'd spike it. There was no in between. Then I'd get it over in the zone and it got put in play."
In other words, it was one of those nights.
"Eickhoff was off," manager Pete Mackanin said. "He just wasn't himself. He's allowed to have a bad game once in a while."
The Phillies' offense didn't have the best of days. Freddy Galvis improved his hitting streak to 10 games with a two-run double against Kenta Maeda to give the Phils a 2-0 lead in the third. But the Phillies got nothing else going against Maeda over his seven innings. Maikel Franco had a sacrifice fly in the eighth, but the Phils went down quietly in the ninth with Dodgers' closer Kenley Jansen striking out Altherr, Tommy Joseph and Cameron Rupp to end the game.
Rupp had a double and a walk, but is hitting .180.
Joseph was hitless with three strikeouts in four at-bats. He is hitting .190.
"A two-run lead is really nothing when you think about it," Mackanin said. "It's nice to get a lead but you don't want to hang on for nine innings with a two-run lead. You need to add on and we couldn't. Maeda pitched well. He mixed it up. We just couldn't zero in on him and get a big inning going."
One bright spot for the Phils was the work of reliever Mark Leiter Jr. He pitched a scoreless seventh inning in his big-league debut. With his debut, Leiter and his dad (Mark Sr. pitched for the Phils in 1997 and 1998) became the second father-son duo, joining the Amaros, to play for the club.
Leiter, who grew up a Phillies fan in Tom's River, on the Jersey Shore, pitched a 1-2-3 inning. He got Chase Utley on a fly ball to left for the second out.
"That was pretty cool," Leiter said. "Growing up and watching the Phillies, I saw him contribute to a lot of great years. Anytime you face a guy you watched growing up and rooted for, it's pretty special. It was awesome, something you dream about."