CINCINNATI – With the exception of one quick thunderbolt off the bat of Rhys Hoskins, the Phillies' offense was basically nonexistent on Saturday night.
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The Phillies ended up with a 6-2 loss to the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park. It was the Phillies' second loss in as many nights to the Reds and they will need a win Sunday afternoon to earn a split in the four-game series before they head to Boston for a pair of games with the high-powered Red Sox on Monday.
Hoskins gave the Phillies a 2-1 lead with his 21st homer, a two-run shot in the fourth inning. Vince Velasquez issued a one-out walk - one of his five free passes - in the bottom of the inning and that turned into the tying run when weak-hitting Billy Hamilton stroked an 0-2 fastball for a two-out, RBI single.
The Reds broke the tie with two runs against Tommy Hunter in the sixth. The Phillies' defense - which has been poor all season - was not good in the inning. The Reds scored two more runs in the bottom of the eighth to salt the game away.
The Phillies had just two hits through six innings and three through seven. They finished with four.
The loss left the Phils at 58-46. They entered the day leading the NL East by 2 ½ games over Atlanta and six on Washington.
Velasquez had one of those starts that can excite you and enrage you at the same time.
The hard-throwing right-hander allowed 11 baserunners - six hits and five walks - in five innings yet only gave up two runs. He struck out four and all of them were clutch.
His first two strikeouts came in the first inning after he allowed a leadoff double. The strikeouts helped him strand a runner at second.
His next two strikeouts came in his final inning of work, the fifth. Velasquez allowed two walks and a hit in the inning as the Reds loaded the bases with one out. He came back and struck out the next two hitters, Adam Duvall and Dilson Herrera, on power fastballs to get out the bases-loaded jam as the score remained knotted at 2-2.
The score did not stay tied long. Manager Gabe Kapler went to Hunter in the sixth and the right-hander gave up two runs as the Reds opened up a 4-2 lead.
The Phillies did not play sharp defense behind Hunter. In fact, both of the hits that the Reds got in the inning hit off the glove of a Phillies' infielder. Second baseman Cesar Hernandez might have had a shot at an inning-ending double play if he could have handled Joey Votto's hot smash one-hopper. It went for a hit that scored the tying run. Later, third baseman Maikel Franco double-pumped on a throw to second on a potential double play ball and another run was able to score. Hunter did not help himself in the inning by hitting Scooter Gennett with a pitch. He later scored.
Speaking of not helping oneself, Velasquez could not get down a bunt against Matt Harvey after Franco led off the fifth with a double. The Phils got nothing in that inning.
Harvey, the former Met who could be on his way to another club before Tuesday's trade deadline, gave up two hits and two runs over five innings. He walked two and paid a price for one of them as Hoskins followed it with his two-run homer in the fourth.
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