A day after earning a spot alone atop the National League East for the first time since the end of the 2011 season, the Phillies dropped back to second place on Sunday after a 5-3 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays before 24,182 at Citizens Bank Park.
The Phillies are now a half-game behind the Atlanta Braves, who beat Boston, 7-1, on Sunday.
Toronto won two of the three weekend games, giving the Phillies their first series loss since going 1-2 against Washington May 4-6. They were 3-0-2 in between series losses.
Now the Phillies embark on a 10-game road trip beginning Monday night in Los Angeles against the Dodgers, followed by trips to San Francisco and then Chicago to play the Cubs.
>>READ MORE: The rise of Gabe Kapler
Toronto second baseman Devon Travis, who entered the game batting .157, hit a two-run single in the second inning to start off the scoring. Travis jumped on a hanging 80-mph slider from starter Nick Pivetta on a 3-2 pitch.
“One pitch, that hanging slider 3-2, that got me out of the baseball game essentially,” said Pivetta, who saw his scoreless innings streak end at 14.
That would be all the Blue Jays would get off Pivetta, who departed after five innings with the score still 2-0.
After Scott Kingery hit a leadoff double in the fifth and Andrew Knapp flied out, Pivetta was lifted for pinch-hitter Pedro Florimon, who struck out looking.
“I would have liked to see him spend a little more time on the mound but, unfortunately, we got to the point of the game where we had to score another run or two so we had to hit for him,” Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said.
Pivetta allowed four hits and the two runs, both earned, while striking out seven and walking two. He threw 86 pitches, 51 for strikes.
— Marc Narducci (@sjnard) May 27, 2018
The two walks came in the second inning to Russell Martin and Dwight Smith Jr., who both scored on Travis’ double. In his previous three starts, Pivetta had walked a total of two batters.
Toronto increased the lead to 4-0 in the sixth on Smith’s opposite-field, two-out double down the third-base line off Tommy Hunter.
The Phillies finally solved Blue Jays lefty — and former Phil — J.A Happ with three runs in the sixth.
Maikel Franco started the rally with a one-out single. He advanced to third after Carlos Santana hit a grounder to third baseman Josh Donaldson, who threw wide of first base. Santana was awarded a hit and advanced to second on the throwing error.
Aaron Altherr drove in Franco with an RBI single up the middle. When charging centerfielder Kevin Pillar bobbled the ball, Santana, who originally held up, scored the second run.
Nick Williams made it 4-3 with an RBI single to right.
Happ (7-3, 3,84 ERA) exited after getting the first two batters out in the seventh. Two of the three runs he allowed were earned. He threw 100 pitches, 63 for strikes.
Toronto’s Curtis Granderson crushed a solo homer to right field in the ninth inning off Hector Neris to give the Blue Jays their final run.
The game ended when pinch-hitter Jorge Alfaro grounded into a double play against Ryan Tepera, who earned his second save of the weekend.
Now the Phillies (29-21) will look to return to first place on the West Coast. With a team batting average of .236, the ever optimistic Kapler feels the Phillies will begin hitting collectively. At least they won’t have to deal with Happ.
He is now 5-0 with a 1.45 ERA while pitching like an all-star against his former team.