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Pivetta, defense continue struggles vs. Padres

Hoskins launches first HR of July; Hernandez's error leads to rally in sixth
MLB.com @ToddZolecki

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies could use a hitter and perhaps one more relief pitcher before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. Their defense needs improvement. Still, a Cole Hamels reunion remains unlikely as the Phillies like their rotation.

But Phillies right-hander Nick Pivetta allowed six runs in 5 1/3 innings in Sunday afternoon's 10-2 loss to the Padres in Game 1 of a doubleheader at Citizens Bank Park.

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PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies could use a hitter and perhaps one more relief pitcher before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. Their defense needs improvement. Still, a Cole Hamels reunion remains unlikely as the Phillies like their rotation.

But Phillies right-hander Nick Pivetta allowed six runs in 5 1/3 innings in Sunday afternoon's 10-2 loss to the Padres in Game 1 of a doubleheader at Citizens Bank Park.

View Full Game Coverage

He's 1-5 with a 6.75 ERA in nine starts since May, but his defense did not help him Sunday. That's partially why the Phillies' confidence in their starting pitching is unlikely to waver in the next nine days.. The rotation entered the afternoon with a 3.77 ERA, which ranked eighth in baseball. Its 11.4 WAR was third and its 3.54 FIP was fourth, according to FanGraphs.

"I feel like [in] the first inning, I was a little rusty, but I needed to bear down more on a couple pitches," Pivetta said.

Video: SD@PHI: Pivetta fans Villanueva to strand a runner

"I thought Nick pitched better than the line suggested," Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said. "Particularly in the first inning, he got guys down in the count -- 0-2 situations -- he wasn't quite able to get that finisher. But there was some weak contact that got through the infield. I think he really settled in nicely and found his groove."

Pivetta allowed three runs in the first inning in part because Eric Hosmer beat the infield shift with a two-out single to left-center field to score the game's first run. Hunter Renfroe followed with a double to put runners on second and third, and Freddy Galvis hit a single to center field to clear the bases to make it 3-0.

Pivetta retired 13 of the next 15 batters he faced. He struck out nine and walked none. But after he allowed a couple singles in the sixth, Edubray Ramos came in and got Christian Villanueva to pop up in shallow right-center field. Cesar Hernandez positioned himself under the ball, but it hit just below his right shoulder and bounced away.

It led to a three-run rally, turning a 4-2 deficit into a 7-2 deficit.

Video: SD@PHI: Hosmer scores as Hernandez loses ball in sun

"It's a sun ball," Kapler said. "It's a lonely situation to be in for fielder. You don't play that ball well or not play it well. You look up and see this giant ball of yellow, and the baseball isn't there. He was positioned well. He was underneath. He allowed the ball to come to him. He couldn't find it."

Kapler called the play a one-off, but there is no disputing the fact the Phillies' defense has cost the clubs runs since the beginning of the season. The Phillies entered the afternoon 27th in baseball in Defensive Runs Above Average (-25.4), 28th in Defensive Runs Saved (-67) and 29th in Ultimate Zone Rating (-26.4), according to FanGraphs. Looking at more traditional stats, they entered the game fourth in errors (72), tied for third in passed balls (13) and fifth in wild pitches (49).

"I don't know that it's tougher to swallow," Kapler said, asked if the defensive mistakes are tougher to take when the offense is struggling. "We have a ton to work on."

I think regular fundamentals are things that we've stressed all year long and we continue to work on -- things like make good, crisp throws and replacing our feet, making good turns at second base, executing throwing to the right base. Those are things that we're going to work on every day."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The Phillies had multiple opportunities to crawl back into the game, but they once again could not come up with a big hit. They went 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position, stranding 11 runners on base.

Video: SD@PHI: Strahm retires Kingery to strand bases loaded

"The story of the game was our inability to capitalize on run-scoring opportunities," Kapler said. "We had several of them. We had opportunities, bases-loaded situations. One big hit changes the outcome of that game, and we weren't able to get that."

SOUND SMART
Rhys Hoskins hit an opposite-field home run in the first inning to cut the Padres' lead to 3-1. It was Hoskins' first home run since June 29 and his 15th of the season. He hit an opposite-field double and scored in the fifth to cut the Padres' lead to 4-2.

Video: SD@PHI: Hoskins crushes a solo homer, call confirmed

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Padres left fielder Wil Myers crushed a three-run home run off Mark Leiter Jr. to Ashburn Alley in the ninth inning. The ball traveled a projected 450 feet, according to Statcast™. It is the longest homer hit at Citizens Bank Park this season.

Video: SD@PHI: Myers hammers a 450-ft. home run in the 9th

HE SAID IT
"We constantly work on our hands through various drills. [First-base coach] Jose David Flores is diligent about that. On a daily basis, we look to get better on defense by just repping our drills. I thought we have done a pretty good job with that all year long. I think in this particular case, we are speaking to what happened today. I just want to reemphasize: This is not a practice more sun balls thing. It's not something we're going to get better at the next time the ball goes up in the air. It just happens once in a while. If we saw it happening multiple times over the course of a week stretch, we could address it. But I think this is a one-off thing, in my personal opinion." -- Kapler, on the Phillies' defense.

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The Phillies lost a challenge in the first inning when they thought Odubel Herrera threw out Renfroe at the plate. The replay official in New York ruled that Renfroe was safe at the plate, giving the Padres a 3-0 lead.

Video: SD@PHI: Galvis singles in a pair, call stands in 1st

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

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