Phillies pitchers cough up 6-5 loss to Pirates

John Lannan is called out at home after trying to score from first on a Chase Utley double in the third inning. On the mound, Lannan went five innings, giving up 11 hits and four runs. JUSTIN K. ALLER / Getty Images
John Lannan is called out at home after trying to score from first on a Chase Utley double in the third inning. On the mound, Lannan went five innings, giving up 11 hits and four runs. JUSTIN K. ALLER / Getty Images
Posted: July 05, 2013

PITTSBURGH - The Phillies' pitchers have become quite adept at performing nightly dances with disaster.

Yes, they sure do know how to get down.

We saw the tired act again Wednesday night at PNC Park, and it left this rudderless team with a 6-5 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates despite a ninth-inning home run by Domonic Brown, his 22d of the season.

"It's going to be hard for us to be consistent," manager Charlie Manuel said when asked about his team's pitching problems. "I hope we are, but who we got is what we've got to use."

The Phillies' league-worst earned run average went up to 4.19, a mind-boggling fall for the team that had the best ERA in baseball just two seasons ago.

The pitching staff managed to survive a series of turbulent situations to take the first game of this series Tuesday night, but got burned in the fifth and sixth innings Wednesday by the team with the best record in baseball.

The Phillies slipped to 4-5 on this 10-game road trip that concludes Thursday with the star-crossed Cole Hamels returning to the mound after an extended seven-day rest to clear his head.

Lefthander John Lannan, making his fourth start since returning from the disabled list, slipped to 1-3 after allowing four runs on 11 hits. His ERA ballooned to 5.15. He allowed four runs in the bottom of the fifth when the Pirates batted around and produced six hits, including a three-run homer by Pedro Alvarez.

"I thought he was in trouble most every inning," Manuel said. "They left nine guys on base and got 11 hits on him. That just shows you how many baserunners they had."

Lannan allowed at least one baserunner in each of his five innings, and the Pirates had runners in scoring position in four of the five. He dodged disaster through the first four innings, helping his cause with five strikeouts and a double-play grounder in critical situations.

But it all came apart in the fifth on a night when the Phillies managed to score five times against a pair of pitchers - starter Jeff Locke and closer Jason Grilli - who have a chance to be on the National League all-star team.

Ben Revere came through with a two-out RBI single in the fourth inning off Locke (8-1 with a 2.12 ERA) for the game's first run, but in the fifth all the trouble Lannan pitched around finally caught up to him. Three straight singles by Andrew McCutchen, Gaby Sanchez, and Russell Martin accounted for Pittsburgh's first run before Alvarez broke a 1-1 tie by blasting his 21st home run of the season into the center-field seats.

"If I make a different pitch to Alvarez, it's a different ball game," Lannan said. "That's what it comes down to."

That, and the two runs the Pirates tacked on in the bottom of the sixth.

The Phillies got two runs back in the top of the sixth off Locke and reliever Justin Wilson, thanks to a pinch-hit single by Kevin Frandsen and an error by shortstop Jordy Mercer.

Enter Phillippe Aumont.

"That was definitely Aumont's inning against those righties," Manuel said. "We had [J.C.] Ramirez and [Justin] De Fratus for down the road. Hell, we didn't get it done."

McCutchen tripled with one out for his third hit of the game, and Aumont literally lost control after that. He hit Sanchez with a 3-1 pitch. He fell behind by 3-0 to Martin before the Pirates catcher ripped an RBI double to left field.

Aumont's night was over after one-third of an inning, and you had to wonder how much longer he'd be on the big-league roster.

Lefthander Jake Diekman came on in relief and uncorked a wild pitch to allow another run to score. Diekman proceeded to strike out all five batters he faced, but the bullpen damage was done.

"That's like putting a dagger in you," Manuel said.

Aumont's explanation afterward didn't help matters any.

"I got tired quicker than I should," he said. "I had a long inning to warm up and I got out there and I couldn't stay strong. . . . It was one of those situations where I was battling and just tired from the start. It was one of those nights where I was in my own way."

Contact Bob Brookover at Follow on Twitter @brookob.

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