MIAMI - You've heard the old line about how the ball will find you. It's usually reserved for a poor fielder, but on Monday night it could have been applied to a struggling hitter. In this case, Carlos Santana.
He lugged a .160 batting average to the ballpark and Phillies manager Gabe Kapler dropped him from second to fifth in the batting order.
An effort to take some heat off Santana?
"That's not really the reason," Kapler said. "Just a little mixing and matching, a little positive shake-up at the top of the lineup."
The ball found Santana with one out in the top of the seventh inning, the bases loaded and the Phillies down by two runs. Santana was already 0 for 3 in the game and down to .155. But this was his chance to bust out, to be a game-changer. He worked the count full against Miami Marlins reliever Kyle Barraclough and lofted a fly ball to shallow right field. There would be no breakout. The next batter, Scott Kingery, grounded out in front of the plate. Barraclough had pitched out of the jam and a long, two-run homer by Brian Anderson against a 96-mph Tommy Hunter heater in the bottom of the inning secured an 8-4 win for the Marlins (see first take).
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The Phillies have lost three in a row and five of their last seven. They are 2-2 against a stripped-down Marlins team that they will have to clean up on if they are to contend over the long haul.
Jake Arrieta pitched poorly but two-run homers by Jorge Alfaro and Maikel Franco kept the Phillies in the game. They had their chance in the seventh with Santana at the plate.
"We couldn't be more confident in Carlos in that position," Kapler said. "That's why he's here. It didn't work out for him today. There are going to be a lot of days where it does. This is very early in the season. He's a performer. He is going to perform. He is going to drive in runs for us."
Santana would have gotten a run home on the fly ball to right - Anderson came in and made a diving catch - had Cesar Hernandez tagged on the play. Hernandez had a big lead, lengthened it on his secondary lead and could not get back to tag despite third base coach Dusty Wathan shouting for him to do so.
"I should have done better," Hernandez said.
"That's a base runner's read," Kapler said. "It always has been and always will be. It's a play Cesar needs to make and he understands that. It's a play that he can read better."
Arrieta's command was poor and his secondary pitches were not sharp. He gave up eight hits, including four doubles, and six runs in 3 2/3 innings. He had dominated the Marlins (3-0 with a 1.80 ERA in five starts) previously in his career.
"Jake just didn't have his best weapons tonight," Kapler said.
The Phillies ended April at 16-12.
The Marlins are 10-18.
"No disrespect to them, but if we intend to take the next step, claim a berth in the postseason, these are the teams we need to beat," Arrieta said. "But you need a collective effort from a lot of guys to win the ballgame and I didn't do my part today."