CLEARWATER — While Cole Hamels is “thoroughly impressed” with his recovery from left arm fatigue, the Phillies’ offense remains a sore sight.
In a 5-0 loss Sunday to the Pirates (10-7-1) at Bright House Field, the Phillies (5-12-2) managed only six hits, five of which for singles, and went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position. The Phillies have now scored one run or fewer in seven games this spring. They have been shut out twice.
In fact, a Phillies runner did not reach third base until the eighth inning. After John Mayberry Jr. grounded out to lead off the frame, Tony Gwynn Jr. doubled down the right field line for the Phillies’ first extra-base hit of the game. Gwynn advanced to third on a Freddy Galvis groundout but was stranded when Reid Brignac lined out sharply to second.
Righthander Sean O’Sullivan started for the Phillies and went four innings, allowing two runs on four hits. Jonathan Papelbon came on in relief and did not fare much better.
The projected closer recorded a strikeout and a flyout to start the fifth. Starling Marte then reached on a hit-by-pitch and stole second base, and Neil Walker singled him home on a line drive that deflected off third baseman Maikel Franco.
Papelbon then fell behind 3-0 to reigning National League Most Valuable Player Andrew McCutchen, who seemed to take exception to three head-high pitches. McCutchen responded by lashing a single to left field. Travis Ishikawa followed with a single to left to score one more, giving the Pirates a 4-0 lead.
The Phillies’ offense mounted its most significant threat in the bottom half of the inning. Pirates reliever Bryan Morris hit Cody Asche in apparent retaliation for Papelbon’s wild throws to McCutchen. A Franco single gave the Phillies runners on first and second with no outs. But Mayberry struck out swinging, and Gwynn grounded into an inning-ending double play.
For the Pirates, Walker went 2-for-3, including a solo deep fly in the seventh inning off Antonio Bastardo that landed and bounced over the left field tiki bar. Lefthander Adam Wilk started the game and pitched three quiet scoreless innings, allowing two hits and striking out two.
After a day off, Chase Utley, Carlos Ruiz and Ryan Howard returned to the lineup and hit 3-4-5 in the batting order, respectively. They went 3-for-9, all singles.
Regulars Ben Revere, Jimmy Rollins, Domonic Brown and Marlon Byrd had the afternoon off after playing in Saturday night’s 4-1 win over the Red Sox.
The Phillies are home again Monday for a 1:05 p.m. game against the Orioles. Starting pitcher Kyle Kendrick will lead his green-clad teammates against Brian Matusz.