The Philadelphia Phillies dropped the middle game of a weekend series with the host Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on Saturday afternoon.
Three times over the first five innings of Saturday afternoon’s game at PNC Park, the Phillies lineup gave starting pitcher Aaron Nola a lead over the host Pittsburgh Pirates. Three times, Nola gave that lead right back.
The last of those three blown leads resulted in a crooked number, a five-run Bucs outburst in the bottom of the 5th that both drove Nola from the game and made the difference in a 7-4 win for Pittsburgh in the middle game of a three game series.
Nola (5-9) allowed six earned runs on six hits over four official innings, as he was knocked from the contest without retiring a batter in that 5th inning. He struck out five and walked two, both coming in that fateful decisive frame.
Prior to that 5th inning, Nola had yielded just four hits. The Phillies gave him a lead in the top of the 1st when Odubel Herrera drew a one-out walk, stole 2nd, went to 3rd on a base hit by Andres Blanco, and scored on a Tommy Joseph RBI single.
After Nola retired the first two Pirates batters in the bottom of the 1st, Andrew McCutchen doubled and came home when Starling Marte followed with an RBI single.
With one out in the top of the 2nd, Freddy Galvis reached on an error by Pirates starting pitcher Tyler Glasnow. Galvis then stole 2nd base, and scored on a ground single by Cesar Hernandez to put the Phils back on top.
But the Bucs evened it right up again at 2-2 in their half of the 2nd when Josh Harrison drove a one-out triple to left and scored on a grounder to 2nd base.
With one out and two runners on base, an inside pitch got away from Glasnow against Cameron Rupp with near-disastrous results. The pitch traced directly towards the Phillies’ catcher’s head, clanking off his protective ear flap and dropping him to the ground.
Rupp was removed for precautionary reasons, and concussion tests turned out negative. He was replaced by Carlos Ruiz, the Phillies now having the bases loaded. But Glasnow wriggled out of the jam without allowing a run, which would prove big in this one.
Glasnow would not have much time left on the mound. He walked Hernandez to lead off the top of the 4th, and then hit Nola with a pitch. With something obviously wrong, he was removed from the game with what was later termed a shoulder problem.
For the start, Glasnow allowed just one earned run, two total, yielding four hits over three official innings. He struck out two and walked three batters.
The Phillies retook the lead in the top of the 5th on a two-out RBI single by Hernandez that scored Cody Asche to put the Phillies up by a 3-2 score. That led to the big Bucs 5th frame.
Jordy Mercer led off the bottom of the 5th with a base hit, and then Nola walked both Matt Joyce and John Jaso. With the bases loaded and nobody out, Gregory Polanco grounded a two-run single to right field to put the Pirates ahead by a 4-3 score and chase Nola.
“He didn’t have command of his pitches,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said per MLB.com contributors. “He threw too many balls, he got behind. He’s usually a strike one guy to get ahead of hitters. Started off pretty good, but just lost his command.”
Severino Gonzalez, recently recalled from AAA, came on and retired the first batter he faced before hitting Marte with a pitch to load up the bases once again. David Freese then followed with a twos-run single, Francisco Cervelli delivered a sac fly, and just like that the hosts had a five-run inning and a 7-3 lead.
The Phils came right back in the top of the 6th to score and cut the lead to 7-4. Herrera tripled with one out, and came home on an RBI single by Blanco.
Ruiz would deliver his second hit of the game one batter later, giving any teams that might be scouting the veteran a nice representation of what he still has to offer. But the two runners would be stranded.
The Phils would also leave two runners stranded in the top of the 8th, increasing their total to 14 runners left on base for the afternoon.
“I thought we were going to get to him,” said Mackanin per the MLB.com contributors in relation to Glasnow. “He was effectively wild, I think is what it was. And we just couldn’t hit the pitches we were supposed to hit. We were ahead in counts and just couldn’t capitalize.”
Juan Nicasio (8-6), who came on for Glasnow and pitched two innings, got credit for the Win, while closer Mark Melancon came on to record his 29th Save of the season.