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.”