MIAMI -- Phillies right-hander Zach Eflin presented a beautiful opportunity to his teammates on Tuesday night at Marlins Park.Eflin carried a perfect game into the sixth inning against the Marlins in his season debut. But a couple hours after his effort, in a quiet visitors' clubhouse, the Phillies lamented several
MIAMI -- Phillies right-hander Zach Eflin presented a beautiful opportunity to his teammates on Tuesday night at Marlins Park.
Eflin carried a perfect game into the sixth inning against the Marlins in his season debut. But a couple hours after his effort, in a quiet visitors' clubhouse, the Phillies lamented several lost opportunities in a 2-1 loss in 10 innings.
The Phillies not only wasted Eflin's first start in the big leagues since Aug. 18, they also went just 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position, leaving five combined runners on base in the ninth and 10th.
Philadelphia has lost twice this week to Miami, which has been regarded as a candidate to lose 100 games but has won four in a row and six of seven. The Phillies must win on Wednesday to avoid a sweep.
Gut check time? Maybe. Maybe not.
"I think every day is an opportunity to perform to our fullest potential," Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said. "Tomorrow is no different."
But the Phillies' 14-7 start is looking further and further away. They have lost six of their last eight games: two of three to the D-backs, two of three to the Braves and two to the Marlins.
"These are games we've got to win," Scott Kingery said.
Eflin, who replaced injured right-hander Ben Lively in the rotation, gave them a chance. He retired the first 15 batters he faced when Miguel Rojas hit a leadoff bloop double between Aaron Altherr and Cesar Hernandez down the right-field line.
Pinch-hitter Justin Bour later hit a solo home run to tie the game in the sixth. Eflin allowed just the homer and three hits to go along with four strikeouts over six innings.
"It could've been a little lower," Eflin said about the 2-2 slider. "Could've been a strike-to-ball pitch, and it kind of just stayed up and was right on the corner. He did not miss it. That was frustrating, but I'm not going to let that define me."
The Phillies' inconsistent offense has been a theme in their recent slide. They have scored just one run in three of their past four games. They are a combined 4-for-28 (.143) with runners in scoring position during that stretch. They are averaging 3.1 runs per game over their past eight contests.
"The pitching's been good," Kingery said. "It's tough for us only to be able to scratch one across the board. We've been playing good. We've got to get back to kind of picking each other up and getting that next guy up to the plate. It's something we've done well all season, so we'll get it rolling again here pretty soon."
If Kapler is concerned, he will not say.
"It is frustrating, but we also understand this is baseball," Kapler said. "Just like a hitter goes through rough stretches and pitchers go through rough stretches, teams go through rough stretches. And really, how we handle adversity is going to define us as a team. I believe strongly in this club's ability to handle adversity."
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Marlins right-hander Tayron Guerrero hit Kingery with a 98-mph fastball on the right biceps in the ninth inning. Kingery remained in the game, only to leave in the 10th. Rookie Jesmuel Valentin took his place at shortstop.
Kingery said afterward he should be OK, which is a relief for the Phillies, who already are down a shortstop with J.P. Crawford on the 10-day disabled list with a strained right forearm. It is unclear if Kingery will be able to play on Wednesday.
"It probably looks a lot worse than it was," Kingery said. "Thankfully, it missed pretty much all the important stuff. It just got pretty much fully bicep. It didn't feel good, obviously, but it should be all right. I think we're just going to put a compression sleeve on it and see how it feels tomorrow, try to get some of the swelling to just go down."
Odubel Herrera singled in the fourth inning to extend the Majors' longest active on-base streak to 31 games. It is the Phillies' longest since Darin Ruf had a 33-game streak from 2012-13.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Phillies left fielder Rhys Hoskins doubled to score the Phillies' only run in the fifth inning. It snapped an 0-for-13 skid.
HE SAID IT
"I think as long as guys are hitting the balls on the nose and having good at-bats, no, I don't see pressing at all. It's just the opposite. I see a lot of success coming for our guys."
-- Kapler, on the Phillies' struggling offense
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The Phillies won a challenge in the sixth inning, when Eflin picked off Lewis Brinson at first. First-base umpire James Hoye initially called Brinson safe, but replay showed Carlos Santana tagged Brinson's arm before he reached the bag. It proved to be a big out, too, as Bour followed with a solo home run to tie the game.
The Phillies have won seven of eight challenges this season.
Phillies right-hander Aaron Nola (3-1, 2.58 ERA) pitches the finale in this three-game series against the Marlins at 7:10 p.m. ET on Wednesday at Marlins Park. He has gone six or more innings in each of his past four starts, posting a 2.57 ERA in that stretch. Miami will go with Opening Day starter Jose Urena (0-4, 4.91 ERA).
Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast.