Phillies

Phils Lose Again, Ugly; Harper Gets Angry as NL East Race Tilts Toward Braves

Frustration is beginning to ooze from Bryce Harper like lava from a stirring volcano.

He lined out to left field with a man on second base to end the third inning Friday night, removed his helmet, mouthed some unpleasantries and shook his head in complete disbelief.

Two innings later, Harper came up with two men on base and two outs in the fifth. He worked the count full against German Marquez then swung over a down-and-in curveball to end the inning. Harper turned toward the dugout, flipped his bat in disgust, removed his helmet and spiked it to the ground

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The burst of anger captured the mood of the evening perfectly.

Like Harper's helmet, the Phillies are crashing to the ground.

They have opened a huge seven-game homestand with two straight losses to the Colorado Rockies and fallen 4½ games behind first-place Atlanta in the NL East.

There are 21 games left.

It ain't lookin' good.

Friday night's miserable 11-2 loss to the Rockies made it four straight defeats for the Phillies. They have scored a total of eight runs in those games.

Even Harper, who has carried the Phillies lately, couldn't save the listless ballclub Friday night.

Colorado figured to offer the Phils a panacea after losses Tuesday and Wednesday night in Milwaukee. After all, the Rockies came to Philadelphia with a road record of just 18-50.

It's 20-50 now.

The Rockies, riding a pair of dramatic homers, rallied from a run down with two outs in the ninth to win Thursday night's series opener, 4-3.

Friday night's game was no contest. The Rockies scored three runs in the second, one in the fourth, two in the seventh and five in the ninth, four coming on a grand slam by Elias Diaz, in building an 11-0 lead.

The Phils scored two garbage-time runs in the bottom of the ninth. Didi Gregorius put the Phils on the board with a solo homer and got to wear the "home run hat" with the team down 10 runs.

Trevor Story and C.J. Cron hit back-to-back homers for the Rockies in the seventh.

Phillies left fielder Andrew McCutchen did not move as Story's homer flew far over his head and he barely moved as Cron's long ball sailed to the seats. Like Harper, McCutchen's body language spoke of frustration and disbelief.

Both of the Rockies' seventh-inning homers came against Ramon Rosso, the fifth of seven pitchers used by the Phillies on a night when it was all-bullpen, all the time.

Quality starting pitching is so embarrassingly scarce in the organization that the Phillies are trying to stay in a playoff race over the final month of the season by using the bullpen to get through every fifth game.

It worked Sunday in Miami. It did not work Friday in Philadelphia. The Phillies will employ this strategy four more times over the final 21 games. That is unless they decide to bring Vince Velasquez back and give him another try. He's currently pitching on minor-league rehab after a stint on the injured list with a blister on his pitching hand. 

Zack Wheeler will start Saturday night's game for the Phillies, but at this point, it might take five Zack Wheelers and a miracle for the Phillies to catch the Braves and end a nine-year playoff drought.

The Braves have 22 games left. If they simply play .500 ball, 11 wins and 11 losses, the Phillies would have to go 15-6 in their final 21 games just to catch them.

It's going to be tough. Bryce Harper's body language confirms that much.

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