TORONTO - The Phillies are having such a difficult time scoring runs that they couldn't even accept a gift from an old friend Friday night.
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Because if you watched the ninth inning of the Phillies' 4-2 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays (see first take), you'd have sworn that Ken Giles was trying to give them the game. Yes, that Ken Giles, the guy who was a teammate of many of these current Phillies before being traded to Houston in December 2015.
Giles is with Toronto now and he ended up bobbing and weaving his way to the save in his team's victory, but he needed 29 pitches and maybe a little help from home plate umpire Pat Hoberg to do it.
Giles allowed a single and a walk in the ninth as the Phillies brought the top of the order to the plate in a two-run game.
Cesar Hernandez had the first chance to capitalize on Giles' generosity and he failed miserably, striking out on three pitches, the third being a down-and-in slider.
No problem. Here comes Rhys Hoskins. He was ahead, 3-1, in the count when he swung through a 98-mph fastball then fouled off a 98-mph fastball. With the count full, Giles threw a slider. It may have been up and away. It may not have been up and away. Hoskins took the pitch. Hoberg called it a strike. Game over.
An incredulous Hoskins briefly protested the call, but there was nothing he could do. The Phillies' 11th loss in the last 17 games was in the books.
"He said he thought it was on the plate," Hoskins said of the game's final call. "It's why he called it a strike."
Manager Gabe Kapler had not yet seen a replay of the pitch when he met with reporters after the game.
"We did a really good job against Giles in the ninth inning, gave ourselves a chance to win, worked deep counts, saw pitches and at the last moment had a chance to win with our best hitter at the plate," he said.
The Phillies out-hit the Jays, 10-6, but nine of the Phillies' hits were singles and they were 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position on their way to leaving nine men on base.
"We got outplayed all the way around," losing pitcher Jake Arrieta said. "They did pretty much every facet of the game better than we did. That's why we lost."
The Jays got big hits, including a pair of homers (a solo shot and a two-run shot) against Arrieta that were the difference in the game. Arrieta - six innings, four runs - pitched well enough, but it's tough to win on two runs. Unless your name is Aaron Nola.
"That's the name of the game," Hoskins lamented. "You've got to get the big hit. Obviously, myself at the end, I know I came up another time with a chance to get a big hit. That's really all you can ask for is the opportunity to do that. Didn't do it tonight."
Hoskins was more frustrated by the two fastballs he missed from Giles leading up to the strikeout than the call on the final pitch.
"I missed the pitch before that I shouldn't miss," he said.
The Phillies were held to seven hits - six singles and a solo homer by Scott Kingery - by Toronto starter Ryan Borucki. The rookie lefty mixed a sinker, slider and changeup. He was not overpowering. He failed to make it out of the first inning and gave up six runs to the Yankees in his previous outing. He was a different guy against a much different offense in this one. He survived a couple of rough spots early and kept the Phillies off-balance for the win.
One of those rough spots came when Kingery was thrown out at the plate by Jays centerfielder Kevin Pillar for the second out in the second inning.
Kapler thought third base coach Dusty Wathan made a good gamble on the play.
"I think it's a combination of things," Kapler said. "The first is Kingery is an excellent base runner, gets good jumps, is fast, makes good turns and is a good slider.
"Number two, we did a lot of homework on the throwing in the outfield and there's no question Pillar is a Gold Glove outfielder with a very good arm, but we also know that there have been some throws that have been off line, so we were taking a bit of a risk there. I will say this, Dusty has been tremendous all season, from my position the best decision maker at third base in the game. Obviously, it didn't work out in our favor and it hurt us and I'm not disputing that by any stretch, but I will say Dusty has been excellent all season long."
The only bit of good news on the night came out of Miami, where the Marlins beat the Braves, 1-0. The Phils remained three games behind the first-place Braves in the NL East.
"We need the Braves to lose a few," Arrieta said. "And we need to play better. That's it. There's really nothing magical you can say. We need to play better. The Braves need to not play as well. If those two things happen, we'll be fine."