PHILADELPHIA -- Nick Pivetta stood on the on-deck circle and tried to will a ball out of play. He waved his arms, hoping for Andrew Knapp's pop foul to not produce an out. Because when Blue Jays first baseman Justin Smoak caught that ball and Knapp was retired, it meant
PHILADELPHIA -- Nick Pivetta stood on the on-deck circle and tried to will a ball out of play. He waved his arms, hoping for Andrew Knapp's pop foul to not produce an out. Because when Blue Jays first baseman Justin Smoak caught that ball and Knapp was retired, it meant manager Gabe Kapler had no choice but to pull Pivetta back and pinch-hit for him in the turning point of the Phillies 5-3 loss on Sunday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park.
"Unfortunately, we got to that place in the game where we had to try to score a run or two," Kapler said. "So we had to hit for him."
Three innings earlier, Pivetta walked Russell Martin, followed by another walk to John Smith before Devon Travis knocked both home with a double to left field.
Pivetta settled in nicely after that. He faced the minimum from the third through fifth innings. But when his spot in the order came up and the Phillies trailed by two with only two hits recorded on the afternoon, Kapler picked production over pitching.
He got neither. Pedro Florimon, who pinch-hit for Pivetta, struck out looking. Cesar Hernandez flied out and Scott Kingery's one-out double was wasted.
"It's just a part of a National League baseball game, you know?" Pivetta said. "Runner in scoring position, manager's call. It's just how the baseball game goes."
Tommy Hunter came on to start the top of the sixth and surrendered two more runs before Edubray Ramos got the final out of the inning. The Phillies got three back in the bottom half with four consecutive singles, but that was all the offense mustered.
J.A. Happ was excellent against his former club. He struck out six and allowed just three hits outside of that sixth inning. He's now beaten the Phillies in all five starts against them since he was traded in a package for Roy Oswalt in 2010. In those five wins, he owns a 1.45 ERA.
"[Happ was] keeping us off balance and making us have some weak contact," Kingery said. "He was pretty on today."
Curtis Granderson added an insurance run with a solo home run off Hector Neris in the ninth.
Pivetta's third loss of the year means that the Phillies relinquished their newfound hold of first place in the division because of a Braves win against the Red Sox earlier in the day.
"He battled for us," Kapler said. "He gave us a chance to stay in that game, gave us a chance to win that game. I would have liked to see him spend a little more time on the mound."
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Maikel Franco, Carlos Santana, Aaron Altherr and Williams all singled in the seventh to give the Phillies their only runs of the day. But Happ got Kingery to pop out and Andrew Knapp to ground out to end the inning and limit any damage.
"It was tough to get that big hit," Williams said. "[Happ] wasn't really missing his spots much."
Adam Morgan, who pitched the seventh inning, has not allowed a run in his last 8 1/3 innings. If it weren't for an unearned run on April 15, he would have a scoreless streak dating back to April 9.
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Kingery's defense at shortstop seems to continue to get better by the day. He halted a ground ball with a diving stop in the seventh and popped back to his feet to throw out the speedy Kevin Pillar at first base.
Kingery, a natural second baseman, said earlier this week that one of the biggest challenges of playing shortstop is the different angles it presents. His ability to learn the position on the fly only gives Kapler more flexibility when J.P. Crawford returns from the disabled list sometime next month.
"If Kingery is going good offensively and defensively, we're going to have a lot of chances to win baseball games," Kapler said. "He's got that kind of impact and energy."
Vince Velasquez (4-5, 4.18 ERA) will start for the Phillies at Dodger Stadium Monday night in the first game of a 10-game road trip. On the hill for the Dodgers in the 8:10 ET start will be Brock Stewart, who hasn't earned a decision and owns a 3.72 ERA in 9.2 major-league innings (one start) this season.
** Joe Bloss ** is a reporter for MLB.com based in Philadelphia.