Defensive Meltdown in 8th Inning Leads to One of Phillies' Worst Losses


LOS ANGELES - This was a not-so-classic rewind.

Thirteen months after suffering arguably their worst loss of the 2017 season with a ninth-inning meltdown in Dodger Stadium, the Phillies self-destructed again Monday night.

Only this time it didn't happen with Hector Neris giving up three home runs in the ninth inning. This nightmare unfolded when the Phillies were unable to make three defensive plays in the eighth inning. The three miscues cost them three runs as they squandered a two-run lead and absorbed a painful 5-4 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on a night when starting pitcher Vince Velasquez was given an early 4-0 lead and responded with five no-hit inning out of the chute.

"Vinny was awesome," manager Gabe Kapler said. "It was a really impressive performance. He really gave us a good chance to win that baseball game.

"The end, obviously, we had some plays that we weren't able to make in the eighth inning and that put us in a tough position."

The Dodgers got the leadoff man on board in the eighth when third baseman Maikel Franco could not make a play on a hot smash by Yasiel Puig. Though Kapler defended Franco, saying Puig's ball came off the bat at 107 mph with serious topspin, Franco made no excuses.

"No question, I can do a better job," Franco said. "I have to make that play no matter what. No excuse."

Puig's ball was scored a hit and he scored on a pinch-hit double by Matt Kemp against Luis Garcia. The next two batters reached base against reliever Adam Morgan, first on an infield pop up that second baseman Cesar Hernandez lost in the twilight and then a high chop back to the mound that Morgan could not make a play on. The tying run scored on the ball Morgan could not handle. The Dodgers then took the lead on a hit by Yasmani Grandal.

To make matters worse, Rhys Hoskins left the game in the bottom of the ninth inning after an odd swing at an inside pitch resulted in his hitting the ball off his face. Hoskins left the field bleeding from his bottom lip. He was receiving treatment after the game and his status for Tuesday night's game was not immediately known.

As the ugly eighth inning began to unfold, Franco could not help but think about that night 13 months ago in the same ballpark.

"When it happened, in my mind, I started thinking about last year," Franco said.

That series 13 months ago changed the course of the Phillies' 2017 season. They came into Dodger Stadium two games over .500, got swept and never saw .500 again as they lost 24 of their next 30.

"It's not going to be the same thing," Franco vowed.

It's difficult to imagine these Phillies going as bad as those Phillies did last year. For one thing, this team is simply better. But until they actually get back on the field Tuesday, no one knows how they will rebound from this excruciating loss.

"We're going to brush this off and come right back tomorrow," Kapler said.

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