ATLANTA -- Jerad Eickhoff turned, stood and stared as the ball sailed over the left-field fence Wednesday night at SunTrust Park.
One poor pitch. One more loss.
Eickhoff allowed four hits, four runs (three earned), one walk and struck out four in five innings in a 14-1 loss to the Braves. He has a 6.75 ERA (30 earned runs in 40 innings) in eight starts dating to April 28. He has pitched six innings just twice in that stretch. He has pitched fewer than four innings twice.
Eickhoff is 0-7 to become the first Phillies starter to go winless through his first 12 starts since Cliff Lee did it in 2012, but he remained unbowed by the struggles.
"It's happening to me because I can take it," he said. "I'm one of those guys that can handle it. I'm going to keep pushing on like I always do. I'm as stubborn as the next guy. Honestly, this felt like a building block. Out of the windup, I felt really good. Bullpen, I felt really good. Things were flowing. I was executing pitches. For one pitch to dampen that, I'm not going to let that happen."
Eickhoff retired nine of the first 10 batters, allowing a single to Brandon Phillips in the fourth inning. Nick Markakis doubled to score him to hand the Braves a 1-0 lead.
The Braves scored three runs in the fifth. Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco missed a ground ball hit to his left to get things started. The ball raced into left field and left fielder Howie Kendrick slipped as Tyler Flowers ran to third for a three-base error.
Eickhoff followed the Franco gaffe with a walk to Rio Ruiz to put two runners on. Dansby Swanson then crushed an 0-1 slider for a three-run home run.
"It just came down to one pitch," Eickhoff said.
Opponents entered the game hitting .313 (10-for-32) with a .625 slugging percentage against Eickhoff's slider, according to Statcast™. They hit .226 with a .466 slugging percentage against it the previous two seasons. The slugging percentage against his slider this year ranks fifth in baseball among pitchers with 30 at-bats decided on sliders.
Joely Rodriguez, who was designated for assignment after the game, ranked second with a .650 slugging percentage against the pitch.
"I just think I haven't executed it," Eickhoff said. "I haven't gotten my body in position to throw it the way that I want to. I threw a lot of good sliders today. It just came down to one. That's what's frustrating."
Phillies manager Pete Mackanin and pitching coach Bob McClure met over the weekend in Philadelphia with Eickhoff and Aaron Nola, challenging them to step up their performances after slow starts. Nola allowed one run in eight innings Tuesday in a victory over Atlanta. Eickhoff will have to wait until Monday in Boston to try to put everything together.
"Eick didn't really pitch badly," Mackanin said. "He just hung a slider to Swanson. That one pitch. If we were down two or three, I would have left him in, but we had to make up four runs so I had to [hit for him in the sixth]."