Phillies Notes: Diekman can't hold Marlins righties

Jake Diekman could not protect a one-run lead.
Jake Diekman could not protect a one-run lead.
Posted: July 05, 2014

MIAMI - The situation called for a righthanded reliever, but Jake Diekman jogged from the visitors' bullpen that doubles as a nightclub at Marlins Park. The lefthander's task was to protect a one-run lead in the eighth inning. The heart of Miami's lineup, all righthanded hitters, awaited Diekman.

He allowed two singles and threw a wild pitch to put runners on second and third. A groundout tied the game. Then pinch-hitter Jeff Baker's mammoth triple pushed Miami ahead until the Phillies responded with two runs in the ninth for a 5-4 win.

"We were short in the 'pen," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said.

Righthander Ken Giles, who threw 27 pitches over the previous two nights, was Sandberg's other choice. Giles has yet to throw on three consecutive days this season in the minors or majors. Justin De Fratus threw 22 pitches Tuesday and rested Wednesday, but the righthander was not available Thursday.

There was no clear explanation for that.

Sandberg, when asked, hesitated to issue one. Then he said De Fratus was "tender" Wednesday. He could not say where.

"The ball wasn't coming out good," Sandberg said.

"I'm not hurt," a confused De Fratus said.

Lefthander Mario Hollands, still sore after being struck on his right kneecap by a line drive Wednesday, was also unavailable. Diekman, entering the day, held lefties to a .468 OPS. But righties produced at a .750 clip. That trend continued Thursday.

Altherr starts

Sandberg's roster's depth is tested on a daily basis. There are weak spots in the punchless lineup with no capable replacements behind them. The manager admitted to missing Darin Ruf and Freddy Galvis. They would offer "a little punch and a little youth," Sandberg said.

For that reason, he installed Aaron Altherr in left field Thursday to make his first major-league start. Altherr went 0 for 4. He was optioned to double-A Reading after the game. Domonic Brown will rejoin the team Friday in Pittsburgh after missing two games on paternity leave.

Ruf, sidelined by a broken wrist, is playing rehab games in Clearwater, Fla. He could return sometime after the all-star break. Galvis, who broke his collarbone, has participated in infield drills and could soon play in games.

"Those guys are missed," Sandberg said. "Those options are missed."

Extra bases

The Phillies were 1-40 when trailing after eight innings before Thursday's win. ... Kyle Kendrick avoided major trouble for seven innings. The righthander's best work was in the sixth, immediately after his teammates scored three runs. Kendrick retired the side on seven pitches for a shutdown inning. His ERA is 4.12.

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