PHILADELPHIA -- Bryce Harper lamented another lost opportunity Tuesday night at Citizens Bank Park.
He knew the Phillies had a chance to gain ground on the Braves in the National League East. But they mustered only six hits in a 3-1 loss to the Rays to remain 4 1/2 games behind Atlanta with 37 games to play.
“We’re wasting time,” Harper said. “We’ve got to get going.”
The Phillies need to get the offense going because they should have won Tuesday with left-hander Ranger Suárez allowing only one run in a career-high 6 2/3 innings, striking out a career-high seven and walking one.
Philadelphia's offense is shorthanded. Rhys Hoskins has played just twice in the last 16 games because of a strained left groin. The Phillies have hit a combined .195 with a .640 OPS and averaged only 3.0 runs per game during that stretch.
Hoskins returned from the injured list on Sunday in San Diego, and he smashed two home runs in a victory over the Padres. But he returned to the bench on Tuesday because the Phillies need to be careful with his groin and they do not think they can play him in consecutive games for the foreseeable future.
So with Rays left-hander Ryan Yarbrough starting Wednesday, the Phillies figured they could give Hoskins an extra day on Tuesday.
He was missed.
“He’s definitely important to our lineup,” Harper said. “When we have him in our lineup, we’ve got the extra thump that we need. He provides that. He gives us another right-handed bat in our lineup that hits for power, gets on base -- the whole thing that Rhys does out there. When he’s available, it’s always really good for us. And when he’s not, it kind of puts us a little bit down, without another guy that really brings some thump to the lineup.
“Whenever he’s out there, I know he’s going to work hard for us and have good at-bats. Hopefully he’s out there more than not.”
Hoskins pinch-hit with a runner on and two outs in the ninth. He popped up to Rays first baseman Yandy Díaz to end the game. Manager Joe Girardi’s explanation for why they pinch-hit Hoskins in the ninth illustrated how troublesome his groin might be down the stretch.
“We thought about using him in the seventh,” Girardi said. “But we also knew that if we were going to score runs, we were going to need to get some runners on and there would be a spot for him to come up. And when you use him, we also knew that we would have to pinch-run for him. So that’s kind of why we waited.”
The Phillies pinch-hit Andrew McCutchen in the seventh instead. He did not start Sunday either. Girardi said McCutchen’s left knee is bothering him.
“His knee is always somewhat of an issue and we have to guard against it,” Girardi said. “Other guys have to pick it up, you know? It can’t be one guy. It can’t be two guys. It’s collectively a group that gets going.”
But the Phillies still had a chance to win, even without Hoskins and McCutchen in the lineup. The game was tied in the eighth when Archie Bradley allowed a leadoff single to Brett Phillips. Bradley then hit Randy Arozarena with a pitch to put runners on first and second. Nelson Cruz’s double to left-center field scored Phillips and Arozarena to give the Rays a two-run lead.
Odúbel Herrera appeared to have a play on the ball, but it rolled past him to the wall, allowing the second runner to score.
“We’ve just got to be better,” Harper said. “We’ve got to come in tomorrow ready to play, ready to go. Hopefully split the series tomorrow and then get ready for Arizona later this week. As a team, we’ve just got to do better and we’ve got to do it right now.”