SAN FRANCISCO - Kyle Kendrick's cutter jammed Pablo Sandoval in the sixth inning, and the ball hovered over the infield Saturday at AT&T Park. The Phillies converged for a tableau of the franchise's current disrepair.
"You got it," Chase Utley yelled at Ryan Howard. The first baseman heard, "Got it," and assumed Utley would catch it. The ball plopped on the grass between them.
Utley, who had time to set and throw to second for an out, instead rushed one of his trademark backhanded flips from 50 feet.
"Looking back," Utley said, "I had more time." It peeled Jimmy Rollins from the bag, and a Giants rally toward a 6-5 win began.
"It seemed to be a momentum swing, but leading up to that we left the bases loaded in the fifth and sixth," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "We didn't maximize and left some runners out there."
The decisive run scored in the eighth after Sandberg replaced a lefthanded reliever with another lefthander and Rollins moved left on a ball hit to his right.
"I never saw it," Rollins said. "If the ball was hit at me, it would have hit me in the face."
But nothing was more emblematic of this atrocious season than the sixth-inning blunder. This could have been an afternoon to suspend the constant anguish over the team's future. The sky was cloudless, the temperature perfect, and the Phillies raced to a 5-1 lead.
The game unraveled in painstaking fashion. After Sandoval's pop-up incited chaos, Michael Morse doubled to score a run. Sandberg fetched the ball from Kendrick, who did not wait for his manager to reach him on the mound, a certain sign of disrespect. A perturbed Kendrick stormed down the dugout steps and disappeared.
"He was upset about the momentum swing and coming out right there," Sandberg said.
Kendrick declined comment. He exited the clubhouse through a back door. Did his teammates perceive Kendrick's tantrum as a slight?
"I didn't notice that," Utley said.
Was Kendrick upset at Utley and Howard?
"I don't know," Utley said. "It's a question you have to ask him. Kendrick is a competitor. He wants to be out there all the time. I don't blame the guy for being frustrated coming out of the game. I expect that."
Mario Hollands induced a high chopper behind the mound, but there was no play as Sandoval scored. Gregor Blanco, with Justin De Fratus pitching, blooped a single to short left field, scoring Morse. Angel Pagan tied it with a sacrifice fly.
"We were out to a great start," Howard said. "It was just something like that, where those guys took advantage to start a rally. It was something small, a small miscommunication."
For a defective team, the small mistakes become lethal.