Phils survive bullpen hiccup for series win in LA
Byrd wraps up four-RBI night in ninth-inning rally against Dodgers
LOS ANGELES -- Kyle Kendrick couldn't have gotten far. Partway down the tunnel leading from the dugout to the clubhouse, maybe. Possibly a few steps into the clubhouse. Hard to say.
But absolutely before he even had time to strap a bag of ice onto his arm following another solid night's work, the beleaguered Phillies bullpen had struck again. Kendrick, looking to snap a career-high seven straight losing decisions, left with a one-run lead with two out in the sixth inning on Thursday.
Three batters later, ka-BLAM!
Adrian Gonzalez drove Mike Adams' fifth pitch of the evening deep over the outfield wall to tie the game. Only this time, though Kendrick still didn't personally get a win, it was as if the baseball gods were just toying with him and the Phils.
What happened was, the Dodgers' bullpen leaks became the story when Marlon Byrd's second two-run hit of the night wrapped up a four-run torching of Brian Wilson and Jamey Wright to get the Phillies out of town with a hard-fought 7-3 rout. And believe it, if a rout can be hard-fought, this was it.
But worth every second. A team that has worked to patch up several areas since Opening Day wound up taking three of four games from the Dodgers as things may be starting to take shape again in Philadelphia.
"It feels real good," manager Ryne Sandberg said. "Good starting pitching all four games. I thought Kyle, at 103 pitches and 5 2/3 innings, did a nice job. And we did well with men on base."
Most of those men on base seemed to be catcher Carlos Ruiz, who reached in all five of his plate appearances behind two doubles, a single and two walks. He scored twice, drove two other runners home and probably could have pitched in relief had Adams not regained his balance following the home run of Gonzalez, his former San Diego teammate, and worked two innings -- his longest outing since 2010 -- before handing the ball to Jonathan Papelbon.
"It's been a while since I went two innings," Adams said. "[Sandberg] asked if I could stretch it out tonight, and I said, 'Let's give it a try and see how it goes.'"
As Sandberg said, at 3-3 in the seventh following Gonzalez's homer, nobody knew how many innings it would take to slog through this night. And it's been all hands on deck for Philadelphia's bullpen for a while now.
You knew that the way things have been going, three problem areas were going to converge one of these nights. Kendrick, his woeful lack of run support and the buzzard's luck of the bullpen were circling above like, well, those vulture-y birds themselves.
Kendrick, despite a more-than-respectable 3.50 ERA, hadn't won since Aug. 11. Over his past 11 starts, he was 0-7 with a 5.03 ERA. His biggest problem this year has been an offense ranked 21st in the Majors in runs scored has taken to cat-napping when it's his turn to pitch.
During Kendrick's losing streak, he had received an average of 2.44 runs of support per nine innings, the third-lowest in the Majors during that span. The lowest? Atlanta's Alex Wood, at 2.27.
It was more of the same in the Dodger Stadium series finale through the first four innings, as the Phillies left five runners stranded. Most egregious moment came in the second, when Byrd cracked a leadoff double and Domonic Brown followed with a base knock to put runners on the corners with none out.
Then? Freddy Galvis struck out swinging. Cody Asche struck out swinging. And, with Dan Haren rolling, take a guess at what Kendrick did. Yes, he struck out swinging.
Which led them to the fifth, and a veritable, sudden outpouring of runs that started with the nimble bat and dogged determination of Ruiz.
Ben Revere banged a leadoff single and then, on a 1-1 pitch to Ruiz, broke for second. With Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez on the move to the bag, Ruiz punched a ground ball right through the open shortstop spot.
Two on and one out was made even better for the Phillies when Dodgers first baseman Gonzalez booted a Chase Utley ground ball, the Dodgers' 23rd error of the season (second in the Majors). Revere scored on the play, and Byrd's two-run double came two batters later.
By inning's end, the Phils had erased one of Kendrick's few mistakes, leaving an 83-mph changeup where Juan Uribe could drill it for a two-run homer in the fourth.
Ruiz said no play was called from the dugout, he just saw Revere move to swipe second and hoped he got a fastball he could pull toward the left side.
"I told myself it was a 2-0 game, if I got a fastball, be ready to hit it," Ruiz said. "I was looking fastball."
Said Sandberg: "Chooch [Ruiz] is good at [being] the situational hitter, RBI guy. He plays the game with his at-bats. He had an outstanding series."
And though Kendrick would not figure in the decision, the fact that he scattered 10 hits yet only allowed two earned runs over 5 2/3 innings played big.
Now the Phillies (11-11) are back at .500 with some wind behind their sails. Arizona is up next to finish this three-city, 10-game trip, an awfully inviting conclusion given their current momentum and the D-backs' 7-18, worst-in-the-Majors mark.
"It means a lot," Kendrick said of taking three of four in L.A. "Coming in here, it's a tough place to play. They have a good team. Winning three of four is definitely a positive.
"Hopefully, we can take that to Arizona and keep it going. We've been playing pretty good. And we're just starting to score some runs."
Said Adams: "Hopefully, we're getting back on the right track. Hopefully, we can get to Arizona and keep it going and get that win-loss record where it needs to be."