Phillies Vs. Rays: Zack Wheeler Hurt by Defense in Phils Loss

Even on a night when the Atlanta Braves were idle, the Phillies could not pick up any ground on the National League East leaders.

Phillies let another opportunity slip away with bad defense originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Even on a night when the Atlanta Braves were idle, the Phillies could not pick up any ground on the National League East leaders.

They really are their own worst enemy.

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And that reality has manifested itself time and time again this season in poor defense.

The Phils played another shaggy game in the field Wednesday night on their way to a 7-4 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at Citizens Bank Park.

The game was decided in the top of the ninth when the Rays rallied for three runs against a tiring Zack Wheeler to break a 4-4 tie.

Rhys Hoskins tied the game with a solo homer in the bottom of the eighth inning. Wheeler took the mound at 93 pitches in the top of the ninth. He allowed a leadoff single to Yandy Diaz then two straight 0-2 hits, a double over the third base bag to Kevin Kiermaier, and a three-run homer to Francisco Mejia to give up the lead.

It was a poor ending to an otherwise strong outing for Wheeler. He scattered seven hits through the first eight innings, did not walk a batter and struck out 10. One of those strikeouts was his 200th of the season. He became the first pitcher in the majors this season to reach 200 strikeouts and he did it in his 26th start. Only Curt Schilling and Steve Carlton reached 200 in fewer starts as Phillies.

While Wheeler's inability to hold the Rays back in the ninth was the deciding factor in the ballgame, there were other contributing factors in the Phillies' loss.

The defense, a season-long problem, was poor once again and it cost Wheeler a pair of runs in the fourth inning. Hoskins, playing through a lingering groin injury, failed to make two plays (one very difficult, one not so difficult) at first base in the inning and left fielder Andrew McCutchen whiffed on another after he appeared to lose a ball in the lights.

The Rays, owners of the best record in the American League, swept the quick, two-game series and improved to 79-48.

The Phillies have lost 10 of their last 14 games to slip to 63-63. They are five games behind the Braves, who, in a quirk of scheduling, are idle again on Thursday night. The Phillies open a four-game series with Arizona on Thursday night. The Diamondbacks have the worst record in the National League.

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