Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Bullpen Falters as Skid Hits 3 Three-Run Homer in Sixth Turns Tide

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Bullpen Falters as Skid Hits 3 Three-Run Homer in Sixth Turns Tide

Article excerpt

PHILADELPHIA - For a while, after a tough start to their series in Philadelphia, it seemed as though the Pirates would escape with a win. After two consecutive losses at Citizens Bank Park, and despite a strong start Saturday from Phillies starter Aaron Nola, the Pirates scratched out an early 2-0 lead.

Instead, they allowed six unanswered runs and dropped the game, 6-2. The Pirates (12-9) now have lost three games in a row and five of their past six after an 11-4 start. Their bullpen, defense and struggling offense allowed this game to get away.

The damage came in the sixth and eight innings. Steven Brault, after an effective but inefficient start, couldn't get through the sixth. He left two runners for Michael Feliz, who has been the Pirates' best reliever this season outside of closer Felipe Vazquez. Rhys Hoskins turned around a 97-mph fastball from Feliz for a three-run homer, his second home run of the series, to give the Phillies a 3-2 lead.

They piled onto their lead in the eighth, scoring three more runs. Vazquez entered with a runner on, and the game unraveled. Vazquez threw two wild pitches, one of which allowed Odubel Herrera to reach first base on a strikeout and for which catcher Francisco Cervelli took the blame.

"I didn't block the ball," Cervelli said. "I got to do it. That's it."

Vazquez allowed two runs, one earned, on three hits in a third of an inning, but he couldn't be wholly blamed for a lackluster defensive effort.

The Pirates were riding a 45-inning errorless streak heading into Saturday. In the eighth, however, center fielder Adam Frazier and first baseman David Freese each committed throwing errors after entering the game on double switches.

The Phillies did not record a hit off Brault until the fourth, but he walked three and hit one batter, and was pulled after 93 pitches with runners at the corners. …

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