Squandered chances cost the Philadelphia Phillies a chance to win another strong outing by Roy Halladay.
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Pinch hitter Brandon Inge hit a tiebreaking RBI single in the eighth inning and the Pittsburgh Pirates rallied to beat the Phillies 5-3 Wednesday night.
Halladay pitched six innings of one-hit ball and Chase Utley and Ryan Howard hit upper-deck solo homers off Wandy Rodriguez, but Mike Adams (1-2) couldn’t protect an eighth-inning lead.
”Our bullpen has been real good,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. ”Tonight, we didn’t get it done.”
The hitters couldn’t deliver in the clutch, either.
The Phillies had runners on second and third with one out in the fourth, but Ben Revere popped out. After an intentional walk, Halladay struck out.
It was first and third with no outs in the fifth after Jimmy Rollins led off with a double and Utley put down a perfect drag bunt. But Michael Young hit into a second-to-home double play because Rollins initially held up on a sharp bouncer to left and then broke for the plate.
”We had a lot of opportunities to score,” Utley said. ”You’re not going to capitalize on every one, but it’s time to start.”
Pedro Alvarez hit a solo homer off Antonio Bastardo in the seventh and the third baseman’s RBI single in the fourth was the only hit off Halladay.
Rodriguez remained unbeaten over 11 starts since Aug. 29, 2012. The left-hander was nearly untouchable in his first three starts, allowing just one earned run and five hits in 16 innings. He allowed three runs and nine hits in 5 2/3 innings and got a no-decision.
”He wasn’t as sharp as the last two times,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. ”The cold weather was gone and the ball was traveling well. He gave us what we needed.”
Halladay struck out eight and walked two in his third consecutive strong start after two awful ones.
Vin Mazzaro (1-0) retired the four batters he faced to earn the win. Mark Melancon worked the eighth and Jason Grilli finished for his ninth save in nine tries.
Down 3-2, the Pirates came back against Adams in the eighth.
Pinch hitter Jose Tabata walked to start the inning and Starling Marte reached on an infield single. Travis Snider failed to get a bunt down, but then lined a tying RBI single. Andrew McCutchen walked to load the bases.
Jeremy Horst replaced Adams and allowed an RBI single to Inge that put the Pirates up 4-3. Horst then retired Neil Walker on a home-to-first double-play grounder to first baseman Howard.
Marte hit a bloop triple off Utley’s glove in shallow right to make it 5-3 in the ninth.
After Rollins was thrown out by McCutchen trying to stretch a hit into a double in the first, Utley drove a 1-0 pitch into the second deck in right field for the Phillies’ first homer off a lefty this season.
Utley batted second for the first time this year as manager Charlie Manuel mixed up his lineup after a 2-0 loss. Young moved into Utley’s No. 3 spot.
Halladay got into two-out trouble in the fourth after walking Garrett Jones and hitting Walker with a pitch. Alvarez, just 9 for 61 to that point, then singled in a run.
Howard drove an 0-2 pitch several rows deep into the second deck in right field to give the Phillies a 2-1 lead in the fourth. The 435-foot blast was only Howard’s second homer.
Rodriguez retired the first two batters in the sixth before Ben Revere reached on an infield single. Humberto Quintero followed with a single and pinch-hitter Kevin Frandsen’s RBI single made it 3-1.
Halladay, coming off an injury-plagued, subpar season, raised concerns when he struggled this spring and then allowed 12 runs and 12 hits in 7 1/3 innings in his first two starts. But two-time Cy Young Award winner appears to be back to his old form. He has a 1.71 ERA in his last three starts.
”He’s been throwing well,” Howard said. ”I saw him hit 93 mph a couple times. Hopefully he continues to do what he does.”
Young was 0 for 4 to snap his 14-game hitting streak. …. Phillies OF Delmon Young will continue his rehab assignment at Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Thursday. Young, who had ankle surgery, is playing right field after being a designated hitter for Detroit last year. … Phillies C Carlos Ruiz will play for Double-A Reading on Friday and Saturday before joining the team in New York on Sunday when he’s eligible to be activated following a 25-game suspension. … Philadelphia’s Cliff Lee (2-1, 2.83 ERA) faces James McDonald (2-2, 4.12) when the teams wrap up the four-game series on Thursday afternoon.