PITTSBURGH -- Drew Anderson found himself in a different situation Sunday than most spot starters for the Phillies in recent seasons. His game at PNC Park really mattered to the organization, more than just an opportunity to get a look at another young arm.
The Phillies are no longer rebuilding. Every game matters.
Anderson allowed four runs in five innings in a 4-1 loss to the Pirates. It snapped the Phillies' six-game winning streak, although they remained tied with the Braves for first place in the National League East following Atlanta's loss to the Brewers in Milwaukee.
"This was a very important game for us," Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said.
But the Phillies found themselves in a tough spot. They knew they would need one spot starter this week because of Monday's doubleheader against the Mets in New York. But when Vince Velasquez landed on the 10-day disabled list with a bruised right forearm, it meant they needed two.
They decided to pitch right-handers Zach Eflin and Aaron Nola in Monday's doubleheader to give Eflin an extra day to rest. Philadelphia chose Anderson to start Sunday, in part because he is on the 40-man roster and in part because he had not pitched since Monday.
Triple-A right-hander Enyel De Los Santos (9-3, 1.89 ERA) and left-hander Cole Irvin (8-3, 2.89 ERA) have pitched better than Anderson, who was optioned to Triple-A after the game, but they are not on the 40-man roster. De Los Santos, who last pitched Thursday, will now start Tuesday against the Mets, Tom Housenick of The Morning Call tweeted after the Phillies' game on Sunday. Irvin pitched Friday, meaning his next turn is Wednesday. The Phillies can place infielder Pedro Florimon on the 60-day disabled list to make room for De Los Santos on the 40-man roster.
Nick Williams' homer tied Sunday's game in the fourth, but Anderson allowed three runs in the bottom of the inning to make it 4-1.
Anderson had runners at the corners with two outs when he got Pirates starting pitcher Nick Kingham in a 1-2 hole. Catcher Andrew Knapp wanted a slider low and away. Anderson threw the pitch over the plate and Kingham hit a double over left fielder Rhys Hoskins' head to clear the bases. Josh Bell followed with a double to score Kingham.
"That one probably is the most upsetting," Anderson said about the slider to Kingham. "Not where I wanted it. It kind of just backed up on me."
Kapler and Knapp concurred.
"I love an executed slider in that situation," Kapler said.
"I think if we execute down and away, it's a strikeout or weak contact," Knapp said. "Just left it up in the zone a little bit. He was taking pretty good swings on the heater."
The Phillies would have loved a sweep, but they left Pittsburgh feeling good about their recent play. And they have Nola and Eflin on the mound Monday.
"It's a great opportunity to go in and win two ballgames, and kind of show everyone we're really here to stay," Knapp said. "Those two don't need to do anything special. Just keep doing what they've been doing and go from there."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The Phillies had runners in scoring position with no outs in the sixth and seventh innings, but did not score. Hoskins singled and Odubel Herrera walked to start the sixth, but Carlos Santana fouled out to third baseman Colin Moran for the first out. Kingham then struck out Williams and Scott Kingery swinging to end the inning. Jesmuel Valentin got hit by a pitch and advanced to second on a passed ball to start the seventh. Maikel Franco struck out, Aaron Altherr grounded out and Knapp struck out to end the inning.
"We didn't score a lot of runs, so that matters, and obviously the spotlight will be on [Anderson], but it's not the only thing that happened today," Kapler said.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Williams ripped a solo home run to right-center field in the fourth inning to tie the game at 1. The ball left Williams' bat at 107.9 mph, according to Statcast™, and traveled a projected 421 feet. It was his 11th homer of the season.
HE SAID IT
"There was a lot of discussion leading up to this start. At the end of the day, Drew came up and did a great job for us. He gave us five strong innings of work. Obviously, we want to win that baseball game. He gave us a chance to win it." -- Kapler
The Phillies open a four-game series against the Mets with a doubleheader Monday at Citi Field. Right-hander Zach Eflin (7-2, 2.97 ERA) will face Mets right-hander Zack Wheeler (2-6, 4.36) in Game 1, which begins at 4:10 p.m. ET. Right-hander Aaron Nola (11-2, 2.41) will oppose right-hander Corey Oswalt (0-1, 7.94) in Game 2. Eflin is 6-0 with a 1.91 ERA in his last six starts.