Winning Streak Ends as Cards Pummel Phillies Pitching for 5 Homers


ST. LOUIS - Before the game, Pete Mackanin fielded questions about the Phillies' unexpected hot start and whether that 15-10 record was a mirage or a legitimate harbinger of good things to come.

A few hours later, there was none of that hopeful talk as Mackanin met with reporters for the postmortem on a 10-3 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on Monday night (see Instant Replay).

"We hadn't had one of those games in a while," Mackanin said. "They're bound to happen. Everybody has them."

The Phillies' six-game winning streak died under the weight of five St. Louis home runs. The Phils' pitching, so good so often over the first month of the season, was just not there in this game, the first of four in St. Louis and 10 straight on the road.

Starter Jeremy Hellickson was tagged for three home runs as he could not hold onto an early 3-0 lead.

Reliever Brett Oberholtzer was touched for a pair of home runs.

Offensively, the Phillies did all their scoring in one inning. There was no sustaining.

"We'd like to have more offense, obviously," said Mackanin, whose club is averaging just 3.27 runs per game, second from the bottom in the National League. "Hopefully we'll get better as the season goes on."

The Phils got to St. Louis starter Adam Wainwright for three runs in the third inning, two on a single by Freddy Galvis and one on a sacrifice fly by Maikel Franco.

Hellickson was solid over the first three innings, but got in trouble in the fourth. He allowed a leadoff single and a walk before getting two outs with his counterpart, Wainwright, due up.

Hellickson fell behind Wainwright 3-1 and had to come over the plate with a fastball. The whole ballpark knew it was coming, particularly Wainwright. He turned on the pitch and drove a no-doubt-about-it three-run homer into the second deck above left field.

Wainwright's long ball erased the Phillies' lead. Two innings later, Hellickson gave up back-to-back homers to Matt Adams and Aledmys Diaz as the Cardinals pulled away.

Hellickson's location was poor on all three homers. The fastball to Wainwright was down the middle. The first-pitch breaking ball to Adams was a hanger. The 1-0 changeup to Diaz was elevated.

"He made a few mistakes," Mackanin said. "I know Wainwright is a good hitter for a pitcher, but the ball he hit out was right down the middle."

Hellickson was dejected after the game.

"The 3-1 fastball [to Wainwright] was pretty much right down the middle," he said. "I fell behind. You don't want to walk the pitcher. I've got to get ahead.

"I think that was the story in general. I fell behind way too many guys. Way too many three-ball counts and too many walks. I just couldn't find the zone. I didn't throw too many first-pitch strikes. A lot of balls up."

Hellickson walked four in 5 1/3 innings.

"Early on, he was real good," catcher Carlos Ruiz said. "He was commanding his pitches and his curveball was sharp.

"Give credit to Wainwright. It was a 3-1 count and we had no choice but to throw a strike. The ball was up. It changed the game. After that they started feeling comfortable at the plate and put some good swings on the ball. If you leave the ball up, you're in trouble."

Hellickson had pitched seven scoreless innings against Washington in his previous start. He is 2-2 with a 4.88 ERA in six starts.

Oberholtzer could not keep the game in check after Hellickson departed. He was tagged for seven hits, including a pair of homers, and four runs in 2 2/3 innings. He has allowed eight home runs in 14 innings and his ERA is 9.64.

"In fairness, he hadn't pitched in a week," Mackanin said of Oberholtzer.

The loss set up an interesting scenario for the Phils as they head into the second game of the series on Tuesday night. Was Monday night's loss a brief and reversible blip on the screen for a team that was racking up wins and becoming interesting? Or was it the first sign that the Phils had been playing over their heads while winning six straight? Some of the answers will be in Aaron Nola's right hand as he gets the ball for his sixth start.

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