CHICAGO - They said it was going to be a tough road trip, but they were wrong.
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It was a brutal road trip.
The Phillies left home a week ago riding a wave of euphoria and a six-game winning streak as they headed to Dodger Stadium and Wrigley Field for a little seven-game test against two teams that played in the postseason last year, one of which won it all.
The Phillies lost all three against the Los Angeles Dodgers and three of four against the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs, capped by Thursday's excruciating 5-4 defeat in 13 innings (see Instant Replay).
"Well, that was a tough one to lose," manager Pete Mackanin said after the Phils lost Thursday's marathon on a throwing error by Freddy Galvis with two outs in the 13th.
Mackanin said the same thing after Saturday night's loss in Dodger Stadium. Hector Neris was torched for three homers on four pitches in the bottom of the ninth inning in that one as the Phils blew a three-run lead.
The Phillies' bullpen did not suffer as dramatic a meltdown Thursday afternoon, but it was still pretty ugly as it turned what was headed toward being a trip-ending win into a gut-turning loss.
Zach Eflin pitched seven innings of three-run ball and was on his way to a win thanks to a tie-breaking solo home run by Cameron Rupp in the top of the eighth inning.
Six outs from victory, the Phils' bullpen could only get one of them before the Cubs tied the game on a solo home run by Miguel Montero with one out in the bottom of the eighth. Joaquin Benoit served up the homer, his second to blow a save this season.
The Phillies' bullpen has been tagged for a staggering 21 homers this season, the most in the majors.
The bullpen, namely Jeanmar Gomez and Joely Rodriguez, actually bounced back and pitched well the rest of the way. Gomez tap-danced out of trouble en route to two scoreless innings. Rodriguez pitched out of a one-out, bases-loaded jam in the 12th by rolling a 6-9-3 double-play ball into a five-man infield.
Mackanin had a short bullpen. Mark Leiter Jr. and Edubray Ramos were unavailable because of recent workload and Pat Neshek, who threw 29 pitches Wednesday, was rendered unavailable because he warmed up before Benoit came in and then cooled off.
"I threw 30 pitches last night," said Neshek, who actually threw 29. "I got hot all inning and then we got the lead and Benoit was in, so I sat down. My understanding is you get hot once after throwing 30 pitches so I was good."
So with just Neris at his disposal, Mackanin stuck with Rodriguez for a third inning, the 13th. Albert Almora Jr. led off with a double. Rodriguez then got a groundball out and walked Ben Zobrist intentionally to set up a double play. That brought up speedy Matt Szczur, the former Villanova two-sport star. He stroked a groundball to second baseman Cesar Hernandez. Hernandez threw to shortstop Galvis at second for the first out but Galvis' hurried relay was wide of first base. The error allowed Almora to trot home with the winning run.
Galvis, a finalist for the NL Gold Glove at shortstop last season, made just eight errors in 2016. He made two in this game, both throwing, and made a poor throw in Wednesday night's loss.
"Freddy feels terrible," Mackanin said. "As good as he is, he's human.
"He's so good defensively, you don't expect him to make any errors. When he makes an error, I'm shocked. It's a bad way to lose. But he won't lose confidence; he's too good a player."
Galvis did feel terrible.
He knew Szczur could really run.
"I tried to make a speedy throw and just threw it off target," Galvis said.
As Galvis spoke to reporters, he cradled an ice-filled white sanitary stocking in his right hand. He was clearly icing his throwing hand. Yet, when asked about it, he hid the ice pack behind his back.
"It's good," he said.
Maybe the hand is not so good. Maybe that partially explains the bad throws. Stay tuned on that one.
The loss was tough to swallow even beyond Benoit's blown save and Galvis' error. Leadoff man Hernandez had four hits and Aaron Altherr, Odubel Herrera and Maikel Franco, hitters Nos. 2, 3, 4, combined for six hits. Rupp's bat continued to warm with three hits, including the clutch homer that gave the Phils the lead.
"We had a little good, a little bad and a little bad luck," Mackanin said.
The bad luck included both Galvis and Brock Stassi lining into double plays.
But bad luck alone doesn't lead to a 1-6 road trip. The Phils were plenty bad plenty often on this trip and that will turn you into roadkill when you play teams like the Dodgers and Cubs.