Sunday, December 21, 2014

Phillies rocked by Marlins, snap three-game winning streak

The Marlins´ Garrett Jones is congratulated by Christian Yelich after Jones scored on a base hit. (Alan Diaz/AP)
The Marlins' Garrett Jones is congratulated by Christian Yelich after Jones scored on a base hit. (Alan Diaz/AP)
The Marlins´ Garrett Jones is congratulated by Christian Yelich after Jones scored on a base hit. (Alan Diaz/AP) Gallery: Marlins 14, Phillies 5

MIAMI - On Friday, Kyle Kendrick pointed the finger at himself after giving up three first-inning runs in a loss to the Cincinnati Reds.

But it was a little difficult to fault Kendrick that night, since they were the only runs he allowed and since the Phillies failed to score at all. The Phils had also been shut out the previous night, and in two of the last three times Kendrick took the mound.

In his last 15 starts, the Phillies were averaging 2.36 runs per nine innings in games when Kendrick took the mound.

But Kendrick was correct: He had to improve in the first inning. He had given up at least one run in the first inning of three straight starts, including those three against the Reds and giving back two runs after the Phils had scored two in his previous start against the Mets in New York.

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    Kendrick did not improve in that area last night, when the Phillies saw their modest three-game winning streak come to an end in a 14-5 defeat to the Miami Marlins.

    "We weren't able to put up a zero after we scored some runs," manager Ryne Sandberg said. "We couldn't answer with zeros and build with momentum on the offensive side."

    For the second time in his last three starts, Kendrick was handed a 2-0 lead before he took the mound, only to give both runs back in the bottom half of the first inning. And unlike his most recent start, when he bounced back with six shutout innings after giving up three in the first to Cincinnati, Kendrick never got on track against Miami.

    "I don't have a reason for why it's happened, but it needs to be fixed and it needs to be fixed soon," Kendrick said. "Guys put up two runs for me and I go out and [bleeping] do that [bleep] . . . It's just bad. It needs to stop."

    Kendrick's personal losing streak is now at 10 games.

    It's the longest losing streak by a Phillies pitcher since Matt Beech lost 11 straight decisions (over 22 starts) from Aug. 13, 1996 to Aug. 2, 1997.

    Kendrick's last win came on Aug. 6, 2013. He is 0-10 with a 5.11 ERA in the 16 starts he's made since that victory.

    "It's obviously frustrating," he said.

    As for his first-inning struggles, Kendrick has allowed 10 first-inning runs (nine earned) in nine starts this season. He has allowed at least one run in the first in four straight and in five of his last seven starts.

    Last night, Kendrick's first inning wasn't bad in comparison to his fourth, when he gave up a leadoff double to Garrett Jones and five of the first six Marlins batters reached base.

    Battery mate Carlos Ruiz didn't help. The catcher made the poor decision to try to nab the lead runner on a bunt with two on and one out in the inning. He didn't nab the lead runner, or get an out.

    The next batter, Christian Yelich, hit a run-scoring single to push Miami's lead to 5-3.

    Shortly after Kendrick exited with two out in the sixth, the Phils trailed 6-3. The six earned runs charged to Kendrick were a season high for the 29-year-old righthander.

    Kendrick, a first-time free agent at the end of the season, is 0-5 with a 4.53 ERA in nine starts this season. Among the 113 major league pitchers who have thrown at least 40 innings, Kendrick's ERA ranks 87th.

    Among NL pitchers, Kendrick's ERA ranks 48th out of 60.

    "[Miami's] lineup is better than it has been, but I wasn't good at all," Kendrick said. "Falling behind counts, missing over the plate, my fastball command wasn't very good. [Our] guys scored runs and I gave it right back to them."

    Kendrick also had two curious at-bats that ended in inning-ending doubleplays.

    With a runner on first and one out in the second, Kendrick wasn't able to get a bunt down and swung away with two strikes, leading to a 4-6-3 doubleplay. Two innings later, Sandberg asked Kendrick to swing away with runners on the corners, one out and the team's hottest hitter, Jimmy Rollins on deck.

    Again, an inning-ending doubleplay.

    "With men on first and third, we are looking for some contact - preferably a sac fly," Sandberg said of Kendrick, who has one sacrifice fly in his career.

    "I'm not a hitter," Kendrick said. "It's frustrating, but my job is to get outs. I'm not up there to get hits. But that's frustrating, too - you don't want to hit into a doubleplay."

    Reliever Jeff Manship, who inherited a 6-3 deficit, let the game get out of hand in the seventh. After retiring the first two batters, Manship allowed two singles and a walk before serving up a crushing grand slam to Marcell Ozuna.

    Domonic Brown got two of those runs back with a home run in the eighth, his third of the season, but the Phillies weren't able to keep pace with the Marlins. Miami scored four runs in both the seventh and eighth innings.

    The Marlins have scored 144 runs in 24 games at home this season, an average of six runs per game at Marlins Park.

    "They're swinging the bats well here," Sandberg said. "It looks like they have a comfort zone here." 

    J-Roll hit chase

    Jimmy Rollins (2-for-4) tied Hall of Famer Richie Ashburn for second place on the Phillies' all-time hit list with his fifth-inning single. Rollins (2,217 career hits) is 18 hits shy of setting the all-time franchise record, held by Hall of Fame third baseman Mike Schmidt.


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    Ryan Lawrence Daily News Staff Writer
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