CINCINNATI - The Phillies completed a disastrous weekend on the banks of the Ohio River with a 4-0 loss to the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on Sunday afternoon.
The Phillies won the first game of the four-game series by hitting seven home runs on Thursday night. So much for any momentum that might have built. They lost the next three as the starting pitching wavered and the offense faded.
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Phillies hitters struck out 14 times Sunday and drew just one walk. The Phillies entered the day with 996 strikeouts, third-most in the majors behind Texas (1,007) and San Diego (1,006).
The Phils did mount a late charge in Sunday's game. They loaded the bases on three singles before Reds closer Raisel Iglesias struck out Scott Kingery and Andrew Knapp to end the game.
The loss dropped the Phillies to 58-47 and the schedule gets really tough as the team now moves on to Boston for two games against the powerful Red Sox. They have the best record in the majors and entered Sunday at 40 games over .500.
At least the Phillies will have their best pitcher on the mound Monday night as Aaron Nola will face lefty David Price. Jake Arrieta will oppose lefty Drew Pomeranz in the series finale on Tuesday night.
The Phillies go into Boston in first place in the NL East, but their lead was in jeopardy of being reduced to 1 ½ games depending on the outcome of the Braves-Dodgers game in Atlanta.
The Phils had last lost three in a row June 24-26 against Washington and the Yankees. They have lost four in a row twice this season but never five in a row.
Zach Eflin, who ran off six straight wins from June 5 to July 3, struggled for the third consecutive start. The right-hander got through the first two innings quickly, but was hit hard in the third inning and gave up back-to-back doubles and a two-run homer as the Reds built a 3-0 lead. Three innings later, the Reds opened the bottom of the sixth with a pair of singles and Phillip Irvin upped the lead to 4-0 with a sacrifice fly.
In all, Eflin gave up seven hits in 5 1/3 innings. He struck out four.
Cincinnati right-hander Luis Castillo sliced through the Phillies' lineup with ease. He gave up four hits - all singles - over seven shutout innings, walked one and struck out nine. He faced the minimum 12 batters over his final four innings of work. The Phillies had an early chance to get to Castillo after Odubel Herrera singled and Rhys Hoskins walked with two outs in the first. The Phils could not capitalize as Nick Williams struck out.
Newcomer Asdrubal Cabrera, picked up in a trade on Friday, started at second base as Cesar Hernandez got part of the day off. Scott Kingery returned to shortstop. Cabrera is hitless in his first two games with his new club.
Hernandez pinch-hit with one out in the eighth and doubled for the Phillies' only extra-base hit of the day. Their other seven hit were singles.
The Reds are 10 games under .500 for the season, but 26-15 since June 10.