Bullpen costs Phillies again in 6-4 loss to Dodgers
LOS ANGELES – Charlie Manuel had seen Hanley Ramirez enough that he wasn’t going to let the Marlin-turned-Dodger beat him.
With runners on second and third and one out, Manuel had Justin De Fratus walk Ramirez. De Fratus responded by striking out Skip Schumaker on three pitches, moving one out away from escaping the seventh inning unscathed.
But up stepped Yasiel Puig, the Cuban export who has put together a month of June that rivals Domonic Brown’s month of May.
Manuel had never seen Puig. And he didn’t have anywhere to put him, either.
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The Southern California-born and bred De Fratus sneaked two sliders by Puig to begin the at-bat. But even that wasn’t enough to bury the latest in a long line of Los Angeles Dodgers rookie sensations.
De Fratus heaved a third straight slider at Puig and the righthanded-hitting Rookie of the year candidate ripped the pitch through the left side of the infield to bring home both the game-tying and game-winning runs as the Phils fell to the Dodgers 6-4.
"I couldn’t believe he hit it, to be honest," De Fratus said of the low and outside, 0-2 pitch. "I didn’t think I threw a bad pitch. But it wasn’t where I was trying to get it and it burned me."
The 22-year-old Puig, who made his major league debut three weeks ago, is hitting .427 with seven home runs and 16 RBI in his first 23 games.
Puig may not have had a chance to bat, however, if Ryan Howard was able to field a bunt cleanly earlier in the inning. After De Fratus walked A.J. Ellis to begin the seventh, Juan Uribe attempted to sacrifice the lead runner to second with a bunt.
But both Dodgers base runners were safe when Howard lost his footing and fell to the ground while attempting to make a play on the ball.
"I slipped,” Howard said. "I cost my team the game. Of all the plays, the plays you make nine times out of 10, you slip."
Howard was especially hard on himself after a second straight tough game. A night after going 0-for-6 with three strikeouts in the Phillies 13-ining win in San Diego, Howard was hitless in four a-bats at Dodgers Stadium and grounded into a rally-killing double play in the fifth.
After the Phils scored two runs to tie the game in the inning, Zack Greinke fell behind Howard 3-0 with runners on first and second. Howard swung at the fourth pitch of the at-bat and weakly hit it back to Greinke.
"It’s kind of automatic," manager Charlie Manuel said of Howard’s green light. "He’s been hitting 3-0 ever since he was in Double-A. But we also want him getting a good ball to hit. … He’s earned the right over the years. He’s got to do a better job of it, though."
"I have a green light – I just had a bad swing," Howard said. "I had a bad swing. I saw the pitch. I just flew off of it. … Obviously it wasn’t the greatest day. It wasn’t the greatest night or game for me today. I take full responsibility for it. … It’s sucks, man. It sucks."
The loss came on a night when the Phillies banged out 14 hits – Delmon Young went 4-for-4 and Chase Utley and Ben Revere had three hits apiece – and when their rookie pitcher bounced back from an uneasy start.
Jonathan Pettibone appeared to be in for a long and lousy night at the outset. He walked the game’s first batter and the next four all smoked balls into every direction of the ballpark.
When Matt Kemp and Andre Ether hit back-to-back doubles, giving the Dodgers a 3-0 lead, the stadium jam-packed with 51,037 people shook. But Pettibone wasn’t shaken; he retired the next two batters.
And then Pettibone took an even more impressive turn. After giving up a single to begin the second inning, he set down the final 15 batters he faced.
"He settled in,” Manuel said. "He was doing pretty good. He took us to a good place in the game and gave us a chance to win it."
The Phils rewarded the rookie righthander by rallying back.
Domonic Brown hit his 21st home run of the season – and second in three nights – to begin the second inning. In the fifth, the Phils scored two more runs to tie it.
A half inning after Pettibone’s work was deemed done at six innings, Chase Utley put the pitcher in position to win. Utley ripped a line-drive home run just over the right field fence off Greinke.
Puig, playing right field crashed violently into the wall on the play. By the time he came to his feet, Utley had already crossed the plate.
Puig was healthy enough to stay in the game, however. And he would put as big of an imprint on an 0-2 De Fratus slider as he did on the wall to decide the game.
"It’s no secret that he covers a lot of the plate," DeFratus said of Puig, who was hitless in three at-bats before the seventh inning. "I’m not going to say what we have on him. That’s for us to know and that’s it. He’s on fire right now. I gave him my best stuff and he beat me today."