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Pivetta starts off strong, but struggles with SBs

Rookie strikes out career-high 11; optioned in procedural move
MLB.com @ToddZolecki

SAN DIEGO -- Nick Pivetta continues to have his eye-popping moments.

He struck out eight of the first nine batters he faced in Wednesday afternoon's 3-0 loss to the Padres at Petco Park. Phillies manager Pete Mackanin thought Pivetta could have a Kerry Wood-type day, referring to Wood's memorable 20-strikeout shutout in 1998. Padres pitcher Clayton Richard asked Cameron Rupp in the bottom of the third inning if Pivetta really had struck out everybody he had faced.

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SAN DIEGO -- Nick Pivetta continues to have his eye-popping moments.

He struck out eight of the first nine batters he faced in Wednesday afternoon's 3-0 loss to the Padres at Petco Park. Phillies manager Pete Mackanin thought Pivetta could have a Kerry Wood-type day, referring to Wood's memorable 20-strikeout shutout in 1998. Padres pitcher Clayton Richard asked Cameron Rupp in the bottom of the third inning if Pivetta really had struck out everybody he had faced.

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Pivetta was that good through three innings.

"He got to two strikes and kill shot -- immediately," Rupp said.

Video: PHI@SD: Pivetta K's eight of the first nine he faces

Pivetta struck out a career-high 11 batters, but he also allowed five hits, three runs, three walks and played a role in five stolen bases in five-plus innings. The Phillies optioned him to Triple-A Lehigh Valley afterward.

"It will be fine," Pivetta said. "I'm going to be back up eventually."

It is a procedural move more than anything. Pivetta got optioned because the Phillies are shorthanded in the outfield with Odubel Herrera nursing a sore left hamstring. Herrera could play sometime this weekend in San Francisco, but the Phillies will add a position player Thursday to give them help on the bench. Optioned players need to spend 10 days in the Minor Leagues, but the Phillies play a doubleheader Tuesday against the Marlins at Citizens Bank Park. Pivetta can be added to the roster as the team's 26th man and start one of those games, which seems likely. He can rejoin the team permanently on Aug. 27.

The Phillies have two healthy position players on the 40-man roster not in the Majors: Brock Stassi and Dylan Cozens. One of them could be promoted. Or they could make a 40-man roster transaction and promote Pedro Florimon, who can play the infield and outfield.

Video: PHI@SD: Pivetta fans Solarte to strike out the side

Mackanin made it clear that Pivetta was not optioned because of his performance.

"He pitched well today," he said. "I like what he did, other than the stolen bases. I thought he was really good."

Wednesday was the first time the Phillies allowed five stolen bases in a game since May 30, 2013, when Boston's Jacoby Ellsbury stole five against Jonathan Pettibone (twice), Jeremy Horst (twice) and Mike Stutes. Two of the stolen bases Wednesday came on a botched double steal in the fourth, which allowed Wil Myers to steal second, third and home in the same inning.

"I wasn't mixing my holds I guess enough," said Pivetta, who failed to look back the runner at least twice. "Something I need to work on. Something I can learn from."

But in the end Pivetta struck out eight batters on breaking balls. He credited a new slider grip, which pitching coach Bob McClure showed him, for some of the success.

"He threw a lot of good secondary stuff for strikes, which is one of the goals we're working on for him," Mackanin said. "He carried it for a while. He needs to understand how to continue to carry that through five, six, seven or even eight innings. That's when you get to be a real solid starter. He's a young pitcher. It's his first year in the big leagues. He's going to get it. He's going to be good."

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Philadelphia Phillies, Nick Pivetta