After doing some damage on the road against a pair of last-place clubs, the Phillies returned to Citizens Bank Park - and reality - Friday night and suffered a 9-2 loss to the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves.
The Phils had gone 4-1 against Pittsburgh and Detroit on the road to pull to within 5 ½ games of the Braves in the NL East. Friday night's loss dropped the Phils 6 ½ games back in the division. The Phils had entered the day a game back in the wild-card race.
Jake Arrieta did not pitch well and the offense was sluggish. The Phils have averaged just 2.75 runs in their last four games. They are now 54-49. The Braves are 61-43.
The season series between the Phils and Braves is tied at 5-5.
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It was not good. He gave up a run in the first inning and four in the fifth. In all, he allowed five hits, including a double and a homer, in five innings. He walked three.
Arrieta has been pitching with a bone spur in his right elbow. He was able to give his team 10 2/3 innings of two-run ball in his previous two starts, but his success ran out in this one.
Interesting bullpen call
Trailing 5-1 after five innings, manager Gabe Kapler went to lefty Cole Irvin in the sixth. Going with a lefty made sense because the Braves had three lefty bats coming up in a span of four hitters. By going with Irvin, Kapler passed on using lefty Ranger Suarez, who has been quite effective lately, allowing just one run in 13 1/3 innings over his last 10 appearances. Irvin could not keep the game close. He gave up two hits and walked three batters on his way to giving up four runs, two of which were unearned, as the Braves built their lead to 9-1. Irvin twice hit batters with the bases loaded and that resulted in loud boos from the crowd.
Long ball lunacy
Phillies pitchers have had a huge problem keeping the ball in the yard this season. Even general manager Matt Klentak listed it as one of the biggest overall problems on the team this season. The Phils entered Friday night with 169 homers allowed, most in the NL and third-most in the majors behind Seattle and Baltimore.
On their recent five-game trip to Pittsburgh and Detroit - two spacious ballparks - the Phillies did not give up a home run. Not coincidentally, they won four out of five games on the trip.
The Phils' streak of not giving up a homer ended in the top of the fifth when Brian McCann led off with a homer against Arrieta.
Big turning point
The Phillies trailed, 5-0, entering the bottom of the fifth. They got a run on a two-out hit by Bryce Harper and Rhys Hoskins followed with a walk to load the bases. Up came J.T. Realmuto with a chance to get the Phils back into the game with one swing. No go. He grounded out weakly to second base.
Zach Eflin (7-10, 4.25) pitches Saturday night against Max Fried (10-4, 4.08).
Eflin complained of fatigue-like symptoms - "heavy body" - after his last start in Pittsburgh. In recent days, Kapler has been adamant that Eflin is fine, that he is ready to go and that there is no issue.
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