Phillies Suffer Late and Total Collapse

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The Philadelphia Phillies were crushed by a late innings rally from the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday night at Citizens Bank Park.

The visiting Pittsburgh Pirates erupted for a dozen runs over the final three innings, including a huge eight-run outburst in the 9th inning, and crushed the host Phillies by a 15-2 final score on Thursday night at Citizens Bank Park.

The 15 runs marked the 12th time this season that the Phils have allowed double-digit scoring to an opponent.

It also matched the 15 put on the board by the Los Angeles Dodgers, also in South Philly, as the most given up by the Phillies this season.

For most of the game, this one was actually a tight affair highlighted by strong pitching from Pirates starter Chad Kuhl, a Delaware native who had plenty of friends and family in the stands, and Phillies starting pitcher Jerad Eickhoff.

Kuhl (4-3) allowed just four hits over six innings, striking out five and walking no one. He was blanking the Phillies, retiring the first dozen batters, before Tommy Joseph led off the bottom of the 5th inning with a double.

Joseph moved up to 3rd base on a ground out, and then scored on another for the Phils’ first run of the game.

With two outs in that 5th, Odubel Herrera singled. That was immediately followed by an Aaron Altherr RBI double to right field, and the Phillies had narrowed the Pirates lead to a 3-2 margin.

The Bucs had built that lead with three solo home runs off Eickhoff. John Jaso went deep in the top of the 1st, Andrew McCutchen drove his 22nd out in the top of the 4th, and finally Sean Rodriguez drilled a shot out to left field in the top of the 5th to give Pittsburgh a 3-0 lead.

For his part, Eickhoff (10-14) had allowed only those three home runs, allowing no other hits and walking no one while striking out three batters through the first six frames.

With the score still just 3-2 entering the top of the 7th inning, the Pirates broke open the tight contest thanks to a key Phillies error and a huge mistake pitch by Eickhoff.

Gregory Polanco led off that 7th with a double, but Eickhoff retired the next two batters. Then Francisco Cervelli sent a grounder to Maikel Franco, who flubbed it for his 12th error of the season.

Instead of Eickhoff being out of the inning, there were Pittsburgh runners at 1st and 3rd base. Jordy Mercer worked the count full, and then Eickhoff made his mistake pitch.

Mercer banged a three-run homer out to left field, extending the Bucs’ lead out to 6-2 and effectively taking the wind out of the Phillies’ sails. The blast also ended the night for the Phillies’ starter.

“The first three homers, I have no problem with those,” Eickhoff said per MLB.com contributors. “Those are gonna happen. Solo home runs don’t hurt you at the end of the day. The three-run homer, those just kill you. Those with guys on base, those are frustrating. The biggest thing is I just feel I let the guys down in here.”

Sep 13, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Rodriguez (3) hits a three RBI home run against the Philadelphia Phillies during the ninth inning at Citizens Bank Park. The Pittsburgh Pirates won 15-3. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

With two outs in the top of the 8th, McCutchen extended that lead out to 7-2 by driving his 23rd home run of the season and second of the game off Phils’ reliever Frank Herrmann.

That led to the 9th inning, where with the game already pretty much decided, the Pirates hitters decided to have some fun against Phillies young relievers Severino Gonzalez and Colton Murray.

There were actually two outs and two on base with no runs having scored when the flood gates opened. The Pirates reeled off six hits, three of them doubles, to go along with a walk, scoring the eight runs before the onslaught mercifully ended.

With the big victory, the Pirates earned a split in the four-game series. They are 5.5 games out in the NL Wildcard race. But with just 17 games left on their schedule the Pittsburgh elimination number is now down to just a dozen games.

The Phillies will now welcome in the NL East rival Miami Marlins for a three game weekend series. The Fish have won six of their last eight to get back to the .500 mark, are four games out in that NL Wildcard race, and simply cannot afford to lose.

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