LOS ANGELES - The Phillies received an excellent start from Nick Pivetta on Sunday afternoon, but it wasn't enough to stop a three-game losing streak from becoming a four-game losing streak.
The Phils suffered an 8-0 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. David Freese's homer against Vince Velasquez with two outs in the bottom of the seventh broke a scoreless tie and things only got worse from there for the Phillies.
The Dodgers swept the three-game series as the Phillies' losing streak reached a season-high four games and their lead over Atlanta in the NL East shrunk to one game. The Phils are 33-26. The Braves are 32-27.
This marked the first time the Phillies have been swept in a series this season.
• Pivetta was in the midst of one of the best starts of his career, but manager Gabe Kapler was forced to pinch-hit for him with runners on first and second and two outs in the top of the seventh in a scoreless game. Pinch-hitter Phil Gosselin struck out.
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Kapler went to Vince Velasquez in the bottom of the seventh and the right-hander gave up a two-out solo homer to Freese on a hanging slider for the game's first run. After giving up the homer, Velasquez walked two batters and was lifted. Velasquez' ERA as a reliever is 10.39. He has allowed nine hits, including three homers, in 4 1/3 innings.
Phillies pinch-hitters are just 14 for 93 (.151) on the season.
• Dodgers lefty Rich Hill was as good as Pivetta. He held the Phils to three hits over seven shutout innings. He struck out nine. The Phillies are 6-10 against lefty starters this season.
• The Phils mustered only three hits on the day. They struck out 11 times.
• The Phils did not play good defense in the series. Defensive miscues cost them two runs Saturday night and at least two more in a disastrous seven-run eighth inning Sunday after Bryce Harper misplayed a ball in right field and reliever Yacksel Rios threw one away.
It was encouraging.
The right-hander was razor sharp. He pitched six shutout innings, walked none and struck out nine before exiting for a pinch-hitter in a scoreless game in the seventh.
Pivetta's fastball topped out at 96.7 mph and he had an excellent curveball. He threw just 82 pitches and got 16 swinging strikes - eight on his heater and five on his curveball.
Veteran slugger Jay Bruce will join the Phillies on Monday. The Phils picked him up in a trade with Seattle on Sunday. The Phils sent Single A infielder Jake Scheiner to Seattle. The Phillies are paying just $2.75 million of the approximately $21 million that remains on Bruce's deal through next season (see story).
The Phillies play the next three days in San Diego against the Padres and Manny Machado. Pitching matchups:
Monday night - RHP Aaron Nola (6-0, 4.18) vs. LHP Eric Lauer (4-4, 4.45)
Tuesday night - RHP Jerad Eickhoff (2-3, 4.10) vs. RHP Chris Paddock (4-3, 2.40)
Wednesday afternoon - RHP Jake Arrieta (5-5, 3.96) vs. LHP Joey Lucchesi (4-3, 3.96)
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