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Velasquez K's 9, but Phils' errors prove costly

Club misses out on chance to move into first place in NL East
MLB.com @ToddZolecki

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies had a shot Tuesday to move into first place in the National League East, the latest they would have held that spot in a season since Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt led them to a franchise-record 102 victories in 2011.

But first place will have to wait. Rhys Hoskins and the Phillies' offense could not overcome sloppy defense in a 3-1 loss to the Braves.

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PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies had a shot Tuesday to move into first place in the National League East, the latest they would have held that spot in a season since Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt led them to a franchise-record 102 victories in 2011.

But first place will have to wait. Rhys Hoskins and the Phillies' offense could not overcome sloppy defense in a 3-1 loss to the Braves.

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"We had some plays that we could have made, there's no doubt about it," Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said.

The Phillies' defense has not been solid this season, particularly recently. It has committed nine errors in the last five games. If one puts stock in more modern defensive metrics, the Phillies have been struggling since Opening Day.

The Phillies entered Tuesday tied for 28th in baseball in defensive runs saved (minus-28), according to FanGraphs. BillJamesOnline.com ranked them last in DRS (minus-39).

"I think the way we assess it is we have some improvements to make," Kapler said. "We're going to work diligently to make those improvements."

Phillies right-hander Vince Velasquez had allowed one run through four innings when he walked Ozzie Albies to start the fifth. He then allowed a single by Freddie Freeman to right field. Williams stumbled a bit in right and threw the ball well wide of third baseman Maikel Franco and Velasquez. Albies cruised into third. Freeman reached second.

The Phillies moved their infield in and Nick Markakis hit a ground ball to Carlos Santana, who airmailed the throw over Phillies catcher Jorge Alfaro's head to allow Albies to score to make it 2-0.

Video: ATL@PHI: Albies scores on an errant throw in the 5th

Kapler touted Santana as a Gold Glove candidate a couple weeks ago, but Santana has committed an error in four consecutive games, three of them throwing errors. That's the longest error streak by a first baseman since Atlanta's Nick Esasky on April 16-21, 1990. (They were the final four games of Esasky's career.) It's the longest streak by a Phillies first baseman since Gene Paulette committed an error in four consecutive games from July 22-25, 1920, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

"It's a bad game for me, especially with the defense," Santana said. "It's in the past. I'll work hard. The last four games, I [have been] throwing bad. But that happens. I feel strong, and I'll keep working on it."

The Phillies scored their only run in the fifth. They had a chance for more, but Hoskins struck out swinging with runners on second and third with two outs to end the inning. Hoskins is hitting .128 (10-for-78) with four doubles, two home runs, eight RBIs and a .490 OPS in 21 games since April 27. He has walked 10 times and struck out 31 times in that span.

Video: ATL@PHI: McCarthy fans Hoskins to strand a pair

"If the preparation stays the same, eventually the balls that you hit hard are going to drop," Hoskins said. "Eventually the balls that you don't necessarily hit hard will find holes."

Hoskins has been studying video to find anything that might be amiss.

"Just to see if there are any little mechanical things that are off," he said. "Setup, how high the leg kick might be going, the way I'm landing. There's a bunch of little things, but there's not a whole lot that's different at all. So the swing is there. I don't know. It's just one of those stretches.

"It's frustrating. Nobody wants this to happen, but I think it's one of those things if I stick with the process and stick with the preparation and the drills that make me feel comfortable in the box, I think eventually it flips the other way."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Vinny dials it up: Velasquez loaded the bases with no outs in the fourth inning, but struck out Dansby Swanson, Ryan Flaherty and Brandon McCarthy swinging to end the inning without allowing a run. Velasquez pumped his arm in the air after McCarthy swung through a 94.1 mph fastball to end the inning. It was the 19th time in Velasquez's career that he struck out the side, according to Inside Edge.

"Just being composed and staying confident and challenging guys, trusting my secondary pitches," Velasquez said.

A for Aaron: Pinch-hitter Aaron Altherr, down 0-2 in the count, worked a two-out walk in the fifth inning to put runners on first and second. Cesar Hernandez followed with a single to score Maikel Franco to make it 2-1.

Video: ATL@PHI: Hernandez rips an RBI single to right

SOUND SMART
The Phillies' streak of home runs in 16 consecutive games came to an end. It was the second-longest streak in franchise history; they homered in 18 consecutive games in 2008.

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Odubel Herrera got on "Titanic Cam" with his own rendition.

HE SAID IT
"Sometimes we forget that Rhys has not quite a year under his belt. We look at him often as a seasoned veteran because of his composure and because of how good he's been thus far. He's got some adjustments to make, and he's continuing to work, and I have all the faith in the world that he's going to not just figure this out, but soar." -- Kapler

UP NEXT
Phillies right-hander Jake Arrieta (3-2, 2.82 ERA) pitches Wednesday night at 7:05 p.m. ET in the final game of this three-game series against the Braves. Arrieta allowed four runs (two earned) in three innings Friday in St. Louis and has a 4.05 ERA in his last four starts. Left-hander Luiz Gohara (0-0, 1.29 ERA) will get the start for Atlanta.

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

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