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Phillies offense gives no support to Pivetta

MLB.com @ToddZolecki

SAN FRANCISCO -- Phillies right-hander Nick Pivetta walked the leadoff batter in the first and second innings Friday night at AT&T Park. Both runners scored.

The Giants' early two-run lead turned into a 4-0 victory, but the chances of a Phillies comeback from that deficit seemed small from the beginning. They have struggled offensively for the past couple of weeks, explaining why they have not won consecutive games since a three-game winning streak May 13-17.

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Phillies right-hander Nick Pivetta walked the leadoff batter in the first and second innings Friday night at AT&T Park. Both runners scored.

The Giants' early two-run lead turned into a 4-0 victory, but the chances of a Phillies comeback from that deficit seemed small from the beginning. They have struggled offensively for the past couple of weeks, explaining why they have not won consecutive games since a three-game winning streak May 13-17.

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"I think we're doing a good job of seeing a lot of pitches," said Phillies shortstop Scott Kingery, who had two of the Phillies' six hits. "Whether those are turning into walks or strikeouts, I'm not sure. But as far as I can tell, we're taking pitches, we're getting some good swings, some balls aren't falling and some things aren't going our way right now."

The Phillies set a franchise record Friday, when they struck out 13 times. It is their sixth consecutive game with 10 or more strikeouts. They had five-game streaks in 1960, 2006 and 2015.

Video: PHI@SF: Stratton K's 7 across 6 scoreless innings

It is part of a recent trend.

"I think it's probably less about the strikeouts and more about the fact that we're not squaring the baseball up very consistently over the last week or 10 days," Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said. "I think we can do a better job of, at the end of at-bats, putting the ball in play. I don't think that's disputable. But I just think at the end of the day this is just about getting on base. We're probably not doing quite enough of that right now."

The Phillies averaged 4.7 runs per game in 41 games through May 17. They had a .735 OPS. Sure, the Phillies had a high strikeout rate (25.1 percent), but they also had a high walk rate (10.9 percent).

The Phillies insisted they could live with that.

But the last two weeks have been a much different story. The Phillies have averaged 3.1 runs per game in 14 games since May 17. They have a .629 OPS. The Phillies have been striking out more. They have been walking less.

In fact, the Phillies' strikeout rate is 28.2 percent since May 17, which is the highest mark in baseball. Their walk rate has dropped to 7.8 percent.

More strikeouts and fewer walks is not a recipe for success.

"The only way we can say that the strikeouts are not a negative is if at the end of those long counts, every once in a while we're hitting a home run or we're drawing a walk," Kapler said.

"We're not seeing that come together recently. It's just a small stretch of that happening. I'm not concerned about it long term. But there's no disputing that recently the performance at the plate has not been optimal."

Video: PHI@SF: Kapler talks Pivetta's struggles in loss

In the meantime, Pivetta or whoever else is starting for the Phillies needs to be near perfect. Pivetta was not.

"Way too many three-ball counts," Pivetta said. "Got behind way too many guys tonight. Kind of gave them the game there. Pretty disappointing outing from my standpoint. It just wasn't my best night."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Andrew McCutchen tripled to deep left-center field and eventually scored in the seventh inning. It was a catchable ball -- it had a 26 percent hit probability, according to Statcast™ -- but it fell between Odubel Herrera and Nick Williams. Herrera had to run a long way, but he saw Williams pursuing and pulled up. McCutchen scored on a wild pitch. Hector Neris threw two more wild pitches in the inning. He also struck out the side. He is just the third pitcher since 1913 to have three strikeouts and three wild pitches in one inning. Cincinnati's John Riedling (April 11, 2001) and Atlanta's Mark Wohlers (April 12, 1998) are the others.

Video: PHI@SF: McCutchen triples, Herrera can't locate ball

"One of the things we continue to stress with Odubel is you're in charge out there," Kapler said. "You're the commander of the outfield. Catch everything, go after everything. He understands that this is a ball that he can catch and will catch going forward."

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Phillies rookie Dylan Cozens singled to right field on the first pitch of the first plate appearance in his big league career. The Phillies promoted Cozens, who is the organization's No. 16 prospect, from Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Wednesday, when they placed Rhys Hoskins on the 10-day disabled list with a broken jaw.

Video: PHI@SF: Cozens singles in first Major League at-bat

"I was just ready," Cozens said. "I thought I would be super nervous, but I wasn't. I normally do get nervous pretty easily. I was just ready to attack anything in the zone. It's just kind of a relief. It's good to get the first hit out of the way. I feel like all the pressure when you get here is getting the first one out of the way. To get it out of the way on the first pitch of the first at-bat is ideal."

HE SAID IT
"For me right now it's about feel. It's not about results. I've been able to put some better swings on some balls and make some good contact. For me that's a big step forward and hopefully every day it gets better." -- Kingery, who is hitting .308 (8-for-26) with two doubles in his last seven games.

UP NEXT
Phillies right-hander Vince Velasquez (4-5, 4.08 ERA) faces Giants left-hander Andrew Suarez (1-4,, 5.65 ERA) on Saturday night in the second game of a three-game series at AT&T Park. Velasquez went 3-1 with a 2.30 ERA in five starts in May, striking out 36 and walking 12 in 27 1/3 innings.

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

Philadelphia Phillies, Nick Pivetta