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Papelbon's rough ninth spoils Buchanan's bid for win

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PHILADELPHIA -- David Buchanan continues to make his bid for a spot in the 2015 rotation, but on Sunday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park, the promising rookie's sparkling performance was overshadowed by a disappointing outing from a veteran.

Jonathan Papelbon blew a three-run lead in the ninth as he vied for his 38th save of the season. He loaded the bases with no outs before a groundout and back-to-back singles made it a tie ballgame. With Marcell Ozuna batting and Christian Yelich at third, Papelbon's bitter afternoon got worse, as a wild pitch allowed the decisive run to score in Miami's 5-4 victory.

The Phillies put the first two men on in the bottom of the ninth, but Ben Revere, Maikel Franco and Chase Utley struck out in consecutive at-bats to finish off the Phillies.

Still, Buchanan's effort was a positive one for Philadelphia. On June 24, the 25-year-old went five innings and allowed two runs en route to a victory over Miami. But three months is a lifetime for a developing rookie, and Buchanan looked even sharper in his second go-around against the Marlins.

Buchanan went 6 1/3 innings and allowed one run on five hits and a walk while striking out two.

His only blemish came in the top of the fourth, when Enrique Hernandez hit a solo shot that made it 1-1.

The Phillies scored their first run on an RBI single by Franco, who was making his eighth big league start.

In the bottom of the fourth, the Phillies scored two more, driving home a run on a double-play groundout by Domonic Brown and tacking on another on a single by Carlos Ruiz.

Buchanan's recent performances, as well as his continued growth, have made him a compelling option for the Phillies' '15 rotation. Since being recalled on Aug. 6, Buchanan has a 2.91 ERA (15 earned runs in 46 1/3 innings) in eight starts.

Erik Bacharach is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Marlins win challenge on close play at first base in Philly

Hernandez ruled safe after crew overturns call

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PHILADELPHIA -- Enrique Hernandez believed he beat the throw, and instant replay confirmed his instincts in the second inning at Citizens Bank Park.

The Marlins successfully overturned what would have been a called double play on Hernandez's grounder to third base. The Phillies got the force at second when third baseman Maikel Franco threw to Chase Utley. Utley's quick turn and throw to Ryan Howard was initially ruled an out by first-base umpire Marty Foster.

Hernandez immediately signaled to the Miami dugout to review the play. Manager Mike Redmond challenged, and after 34 seconds, the call was overturned.

Miami is 19-for-27 on the season in challenges.

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Williams, Cashner to open series at Petco Park

Padres, Phillies start four-game set in San Diego

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Monday night at Petco Park will mark the beginning of the Padres' final homestand of the season, while the Phillies will start their last road trip as they try to salvage what's left of their 2014 season.

The Phillies are looking to avoid finishing in the basement of the National League East for the first time since 2000. For the team with the third highest payroll ($180 million) in baseball entering the season, that wasn't exactly the end-of-year goal the Phillies anticipated.

The Padres, meanwhile, have a chance to eclipse last year's 76-win total if they play .500 baseball the rest of the way. San Diego sits at 68-79 with 15 games left this season entering Sunday.

Andrew Cashner gets the call for the Padres. The team's Opening Day starter, Cashner's last outing was a long time in the making. He earned a victory for the first time since April 16, snapping a streak of 11 winless starts. Multiple trips to the disabled list have limited Cashner to 101 1/3 innings this season, but when he has been on the mound, he's pitched well with a 2.40 ERA and 1.20 WHIP.

For the Phillies, Jerome Williams will continue to vie for a spot in the '15 rotation as he makes his seventh start for the club. After being released from the Astros and Rangers, Williams has posted solid overall numbers -- a 3-1 record and 3.44 ERA -- with his third team of the season, but has struggled recently. In each of his last two outings, the 32-year-old journeyman has lasted just five innings while surrendering four earned runs.

Phillies: Control issues are behind Giles
When Ken Giles was called up to the Majors in June, the Phillies tempered their expectations. His 100-mph fastball was well-documented, but his control was an area of concern that kept him from making the Opening Day roster. With that in mind, Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg did not expect the 23-year-old to make as big an impact as he has so far in his rookie season.

"Not where he was with his control," Sandberg said. "He lacked control with [his] fastball and his breaking pitch. And he pitched behind so much in Spring Training that you didn't see much of the breaking pitch because he was trying to get ahead with fastballs, which he wasn't controlling."

Giles, who had retired 25 consecutive batters before allowing a walk on Saturday night, has mastered his control since arriving in the bigs, and his 1.08 ERA and 0.79 WHIP have been numbers to remember in a season to forget.

"He's come a long way," Sandberg said. "Lots of people have done a good job with him -- Minor League coaches. He was able to get on a roll here and gain confidence with success. He's continued and is on quite a roll."

Worth noting
• The Phillies were eliminated in the division race after the Nationals' Saturday-night win over the Mets.

Erik Bacharach is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Kendrick sparkles in emotional start in Philly

Righty allows a run in 6 1/3 innings in potential final home start

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PHILADELPHIA -- Citizens Bank Park has been the only home Kyle Kendrick has even known in baseball.

The 30-year-old righty -- who was the arm behind Philadelphia's 2-1 victory over Miami on an autumn-like Saturday night -- was called up in June of 2007 to fill in for an injured Freddy Garcia. The then-22-year-old went six innings in his debut against the White Sox at Citizens Bank Park, and would go on to throw 568 1/3 more as a Phillie at home prior to Saturday. But the 6 1/3 frames he worked against the Marlins may have been his last home start for the Phillies.

Kendrick's contract will expire at the end of this season, and the thought of the uncertainty looming in his not-so-distant future pervaded his night.

"Before the game started, warming up, in between some innings, you know ... it's been a good time here for me," Kendrick said.

A pensive and emotional Kendrick, who moved into a tie with Brett Myers for 16th in starts (183) and 24th in wins (73) on the Phillies' all-time list, spoke about what this team and city has meant to him after Saturday night's win.

"I came up in this organization," he said. "A lot of teammates are still around [from] when I came up. I don't know. It's tough. I'm a pretty loyal guy. My kids were born here. Met my wife here, you know. I have a lot of things here."

The organization hasn't given Kendrick any inclination as to what their plans are for him as the offseason approaches, but Kendrick's preference is to remain in the city that has become his home.

"This is obviously my first choice," he said. "I love it here. I know the fans aren't always ... they get mad at me, I understand that. I'm used to it. But it's the only place I've played. So we'll see what happens."

Inconsistency has been a theme in Kendrick's tenure in Philly, but does his ability to eat innings -- with his 6 1/3 frames on Saturday, he reached 187 for the season, a career-high -- merit a return to a pitching staff that is hungry for starters?

"He's shown improvement, so that's yet to be seen," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "I'd say the second half of the season, he's thrown the ball much better."

This season as a whole hasn't exactly panned out how Kendrick probably envisioned -- he entered the game with an 8-12 record and 4.83 ERA. In fact, the biggest storyline shadowing Kendrick all year have been his first-inning woes.

In 29 starts, Kendrick had allowed 30 earned runs in the first frame for a 9.31 ERA, and he had only recorded one 1-2-3 first inning at home this season. But in perhaps his final impression on Philly fans, he started the night off with his second, retiring Christian Yelich, Donovan Solano and Casey McGehee to set the tone.

"Might have been the sharpest that he looked in the first inning," Sandberg said. "Just command of the fastball, ahead of the hitters. A good, quick inning. So that got him off to a good start."

The only tangible damage inflicted upon Kendrick came in the second inning, when Garrett Jones hit a solo home run.

Kendrick and the Phillies received some help from Maikel Franco in the first inning. In his first career start at first base, the September callup made two plays flaunting his impressive range, especially when juxtaposed with the range of Phillies everyday first baseman Ryan Howard.

Then, in the bottom half of the inning, he singled home Ben Revere for the game's first run. Marlon Byrd then drove in Franco on a doubled that banged off the out-of-town scoreboard.

That's all the offense Kendrick would require, as a run-saving throw by Byrd in the seventh that nailed Justin Bour at the plate ensured Kendrick remained in line for the victory. He went 6 1/3 innings and allowed a run on seven hits and a walk while striking out five to pick up the win on an emotional night.

"I don't know what's going to happen, but it's out of my control," Kendrick said. "If I'm somewhere else, I'll miss it."

Erik Bacharach is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Kendrick, Phillies get help from overturned call

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PHILADELPHIA -- Kyle Kendrick entered his final home start of the season with hopes of making it one to remember, considering it might be his last as a Phillie overall.

The right-hander, whose contract expires at the end of the season, got some help from a replay review with two outs in the top of the third, when Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg won a challenge in which Miami left fielder Christian Yelich was originally called safe at second while trying to swipe the bag.

With Marlins second baseman Donovan Solano batting, catcher Wil Nieves fired to second baseman Chase Utley on Yelich's steal attempt. Sandberg immediately came out of the dugout to argue the safe call, and after a 53-second review, replay clearly showed that Utley tagged Yelich before he reached the base.

The call on the field was overturned, ending the inning.

Erik Bacharach is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Key connections: Star-Spangled Banner, baseball forever linked

Verses that became National anthem celebrates 200 years, is part of baseball's fabric

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Francis Scott Key never got to see a big league baseball game. He died in 1843, some 26 years before the first professional team was established. But you can imagine his joy if he did get that chance. These days, he'd probably sit in a shiny bleacher seat, waiting for a batting-practice homer with a soft, weathered glove raised high ... in his non-writing hand. Maybe he'd inhale a hot dog while jotting down a few pretty lines for his next song. That would come about an hour before he'd hear the iconic bars of his first one, which, contrary to American lore, does not end with the words, "Play Ball." Odds are he'd be pretty happy at the twilight's last gleaming.

This weekend, the celebration of the 200th anniversary of our national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner," is on, and Key's memory is being rightly feted for his poetic description from the "dawn's early light" of Sept. 14, 1814, at the height of the War of 1812.

Hours after being stuck on a ship in Baltimore Harbor as the British pounded Fort McHenry in the Battle of Baltimore, Key saw the skies clear from the smoke and the indelible image that "our flag was still there."

The verses were called "The Defence of Fort M'Henry," and it was put to the tune of "To Anacreon in Heaven," a British drinking song purportedly written by John Stafford Smith that had been composed more than 30 years earlier and served as the theme of the Anacreontic Society of London, a men's club of amateur musicians.

Soon after Key wrote the words, a local newspaper gave it the title "The Star-Spangled Banner," and in 1931, it became our official anthem. All the while, another grand tradition steeped in collective nostalgia and American togetherness -- the game of baseball -- was steaming along, gaining prominence in our country's conscience.

Not surprisingly, the national anthem and the National Pastime became stitched together forever, like red laces in white horsehide.

According to John Thorn, the official historian of Major League Baseball, the playing of the national anthem before big league games did not become an everyday tradition until 1942. Taking that into account (and including a slight margin of error based on the lack of documentation regarding split doubleheaders in the earlier days), the Star-Spangled Banner has been heard right before the first pitch of at least the last 121,000 games. Oh, say can you see, indeed.

So with that in mind, 200 years after the night a 35-year-old Washington, D.C.-based attorney known to friends as Frank found himself under a war-torn sky, with honor in his heart and a pen in his hand, we go around the horn with nine things to know about "The Star-Spangled Banner" and its now-eternal link to the national pastime.

1. A first for everything
The first time the song was played at a baseball game was May 15, 1862, at William Cammeyer's Union Grounds park in Brooklyn. It had been converted from an ice skating venue into a field for summer sports, including what, at the time, was known as "base ball." In the midst of the Civil War, a band played "The Star-Spangled Banner."

The first big league Opening Day to feature the eventual anthem took place in Philadelphia on April 22, 1897. The New York Tribune newspaper included a brief and lyrical account of the game: "Opening Day here was a great success. The weather was delightful and the attendance numbered 17,074. The players paraded across the field, company front, and then raised the new flag, while the band played 'The Star Spangled Banner.' "

In spite of all the pageantry, there had to be some accounting for the four errors that led the Phillies to a 5-1 victory over the Giants at the Baker Bowl.

"The game was rather dull and long-drawn out," the article read, "and on the part of the New-Yorkers was somewhat unsteadily played."

2. An unforgettable rendition
The first national anthem played at a World Series game occurred on Sept. 5, 1918, during World War I, when Major League players were in the midst of being drafted into service. The regular season was ordered by the government to be completed by Labor Day, hence the Fall Classic that year was played in September.

The Cubs borrowed Comiskey Park from the White Sox to take advantage of the larger seating capacity, but things got quiet in Game 1, a 1-0 shutout by Red Sox pitcher Babe Ruth. But that game will be forever remembered for what occurred in the seventh inning.

That was when the military band on hand struck up "The Star-Spangled Banner," and the song took on a different meaning. Red Sox third baseman Fred Thomas, for example, was on furlough from the Navy, and he saluted the flag during the playing of the song.

And then the crowd caught on. The New York Times opened its account of the game by writing, "Far different from any incident that has ever occurred in the history of baseball was the great moment of the first world's series game between the Chicago Cubs and the Boston Red Sox, which came at Comiskey Park this afternoon during the seventh-inning stretch" and then continued with the play-by-play … of "The Star-Spangled Banner."

"First the song was taken up by a few, then others joined, and when the final notes came, a great volume of melody rolled across the field. It was at the very end that the onlookers exploded into thunderous applause and rent the air with a cheer that marked the highest point of the day's enthusiasm."

The Cubs and Red Sox repeated the tradition for the rest of the Series.

3. Making it official
Even though the Secretary of the Navy in 1889 had designated "The Star-Spangled Banner" as the official song to be played at the raising of the flag, and even though President Woodrow Wilson, a huge baseball fan himself, treated it and referred to it as our national anthem, it had failed to stick in Congress after numerous attempts in the 1920s.

Baseball's increased use of the song prior to games, a petition with millions of signatures, and a nice little push from noted composer John Philip Sousa helped finally get the job done on March 3, 1931, when President Herbert Hoover signed into law the establishment of the song as the official national anthem of the United States of America.

4. A lasting tradition
"The Star-Spangled Banner" still wasn't being played before every baseball game in 1941, but on April 26, 1941, the ball got rolling in the Bronx. As The New York Times reported, "With more war new in the making, president Ed Barrow of the Yankees ordered that 'The Star-Spangled Banner' be played before all games at the Stadium.

"Meanwhile, all continued to go well for the Yankees and [Joe] DiMaggio. He singled home a run in the first and scored twice as New York beat Washington 8-3 for its fourth straight victory."

By the following year, with the country deep in World War II, the anthem became the daily staple of baseball that we know today.

And DiMaggio was still hitting.

5. Controversy hits the field
It was October 1968, and the country was fighting in Vietnam and had already lived through the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. that year. Protests were boiling over in the streets at home, and the Detroit Tigers were hosting the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series.

Jose Feliciano was a 23-year-old blind folk singer from Puerto Rico who had scored a hit on the U.S. charts with a cover of The Doors' "Light My Fire," and Tigers radio legend Ernie Harwell invited him to sing the national anthem at Tiger Stadium prior to Game 5.

Feliciano was accompanied in left field by his acoustic guitar and his guide dog, Trudy, and he launched into an emotional, heartfelt, and, well, different version of "The Star-Spangled Banner." He strummed the guitar in a slightly syncopated, Latin-influenced rhythm, careened back and forth from the traditional vocal melody to something more adventurous, and offered the finishing flourish of "Yeah, yeah."

It was bold and innovative and fresh, but it was also many years ahead of its time. Feliciano was booed heartily by the crowd and caused a public uproar that took years to live down.

"Back then, when the anthem was done at ballgames, people couldn't wait for it to be over," Feliciano told The Guardian last month. "And I wanted to make them sit up and take notice and respect the song. I was shocked when I was booed. I felt, 'God, what have I done wrong?' All I was trying to do was create a soulful rendition. I never in my wildest dreams thought I was going to have the country against me, radio stations stop playing me.

"But in part, it was good -- because I ended up meeting my wife. She couldn't understand the injustice and started a fan club, even though we'd never met. We fell in love and the rest is history."

On Oct. 14, 2012, prior to Game 1 of the National League Championship Series at AT&T Park in San Francisco, the same stylized, heartfelt version of the national anthem was performed by Feliciano on his acoustic guitar.

This time the crowd roared.

6. "O"-dience participation
The anthem itself is a tradition, and at Oriole Park in Camden Yards in Baltimore, there's a tradition baked into the tradition. When the song rounds third base and heads for home with, "O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave," the crowd screams the "O" together, celebrating their beloved O's.

This started at the old Memorial Stadium in the club's pennant-winning season of 1979. Out in Section 34 of the upper deck, Orioles superfan Wild Bill Hagy would lead fans in chants of O-R-I-O-L-E-S, with the emphasis on the "O." Mary Powers sat nearby and took the inspiration to another level.

"We would accentuate the 'O' in any word that would have an 'O,' and one night when they were playing the anthem, I thought, 'There's an 'O!' in this song,' and the first time I did it, I remember people turning around and looking like, 'Oh, my God, I can't believe she just did that,' " Powers recently told WBAL-TV.

"Well, Wild Bill had a little grin on his face, so the next night, he did it with me, and once he put his blessing on it, everybody started to do it."

Orioles fans still do it -- loudly -- and will likely be doing it in October this year.

7. Setting the (low) Barr
We all know now that Feliciano's rendition was eventually respected, if not appreciated. We all also know now that the version of "The Star-Spangled Banner" performed by comedian Roseanne Barr before a Padres-Reds doubleheader at Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego on July 25, 1990, was not.

Barr screeched a fast, off-key rendition of the anthem that drew loud boos midway through, and when she was finished, she grabbed her crotch and spit, as if to mimic a ballplayer. The joke bombed, she was lambasted all over TV and in the newspapers, and she inspired President George H. W. Bush to call the whole act "disgraceful."

Bush's comment was met with bipartisan approval.

8. A hymn of healing
The horrific events of Sept. 11, 2001, changed the United States forever, but not only in tragic ways. The courage, brotherhood and human decency shown that day in New York, Washington, D.C., and on a hijacked airplane that would crash in a Pennsylvania field showed our country's strength and will to persevere.

The emotion was palpable 10 days later when the Mets played the Braves at Shea Stadium in the first professional sporting event in New York City since the attacks. Marc Anthony delivered a somber rendition without musical accompaniment and the game was played quietly until the eighth inning, when Piazza's two-run home run gave the Mets the lead and got the crowd going again.

"I remember standing on the line during the national anthem -- actually when the bagpipes and band came out -- I said to myself, 'Please, God, give me the strength to get through this,' " Piazza told the New York Daily News in 2008. "I was fortunate to find the strength to hit a home run in that situation. I'm flattered, I'm honored that people put that moment as a time where it helped the city at least have a little bit of joy in a really tough week."

9. 200 and many more
Every year now, we're treated to incredible musical talent on the baseball field. From the seasoned operatic pipes of longtime Yankees national anthem singer Robert Merrill to commercial acts James Taylor, Paul Simon, Sammy Davis Jr., John Legend, Lyle Lovett, the Grateful Dead, Slash from Guns N' Roses, Mary J. Blige, Billy Joel, Idina Menzel, Kelly Clarkson and countless others, it's now a grand American tradition to bring out the best in the business to sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" at the biggest baseball games.

But Sunday, the song itself will shine.

At Fort McHenry in Baltimore, a real-time anniversary program will kick off, with artillery salutes, a reading of the song's four stanzas and a replica 15-star, 15-stripe flag raising at precisely 9 a.m. to commemorate the history that Key had witnessed.

And MLB teams playing at home will show a special video montage of "The Star-Spangled Banner." In conjunction with the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and the program Great Performances, Maryland Public Television has provided the montage originally seen in the PBS production Star-Spangled Banner: The Bicentennial of our National Anthem to the ballparks and to MLB.com and all 30 club websites and official MLB social media channels.

Fittingly, the last game on Sunday will be played at Camden Yards, about three miles away from Fort McHenry, and fittingly, the Orioles will play the Yankees.

We all know what song we'll hear right before the first pitch.

Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Franco showing versatilty as infielder

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PHILADELPHIA -- Maikel Franco has already proven a very capable Major League third baseman in the short time he's been with the Phillies since his Sept. 1 callup. But the 22-year-old prospect figures to see some time at first base as well in the last couple of weeks of the season.

Saturday night marked the first time Franco started as Philadelphia's first baseman after his first six big league starts came at third.

Franco started 107 of his games at third base for Triple-A Lehigh Valley earlier in 2014, versus only 26 at first.

At this point, Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg is not sure where the infielder is more effective.

"I haven't seen him enough at first," Sandberg said. "Think he had 25 games, something like that, at Lehigh Valley. So he's had more work at third than first. So I wouldn't know, but I know that he's a glove guy, he's defensive-minded, he's got real good hands and he's got real good feet. So things are the makings of a real good infielder.

"What I do notice is at third, he has the ability to, the tougher the play is, the softer that he gets. And that's all instincts. That's all natural. So he's able to either smother the ball, knock it down, stay relaxed, get the out and retreat on a ball to get the right hop. That's all footwork."

Those skills should translate nicely at first.

Erik Bacharach is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Buchanan finds success during rookie campaign

With help of Phillies veterans, young pitcher learns how to be a pro

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PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies pitching rotation has, at times this season, included four All-Stars, three World Series champions, and a Cy Young award winner.

One of their most consistent pitchers over the past three months, however, is a man who doesn't fall under any of those categories -- David Buchanan.

"The main thing has just been staying confident, pounding the strike zone, putting the ball on both sides of the plate, and commanding the fastball," said Buchanan, when asked about his success in his rookie season.

At 25, Buchanan is the youngest member of the Phillies' rotation. He hasn't let this faze him, however, as he has pitched to the tune of a 3.90 ERA with a 6-7 record. He has used his teammates' experience to his advantage, conversing regularly with Cole Hamels, A.J. Burnett, Cliff Lee, and others.

"A to Z, you name it. I've learned so much from them," said Buchanan. "Everything from how to go about myself on the field, off the field and as a professional."

Buchanan struggled a bit when he first came up, allowing 16 earned runs in 23 2/3 innings with a 1-3 record in his first four starts. However, in 13 starts since June 14, Buchanan has increased his ground-ball rate, which has led to a 5-4 record with a much-improved 3.21 ERA.

"I got away from [throwing strikes and staying true to myself] a couple times and it showed in some of my outings," said Buchanan of his first few games. "As long as I stay true to myself, and not try to do too much, I'll be all right."

Buchanan's two best games of the season came against powerful National League Central teams -- the St. Louis Cardinals on June 19 and the Milwaukee Brewers on July 10. Buchanan pitched 7 2/3 and 7 innings, respectively, holding both teams to one run en route to Phillies wins.

Despite his successful debut campaign, Buchanan still sees some room for improvement for next season. He hopes to make his curveball more consistent and improve his command. He also wants to work on throwing his fastball and sinker more often and staying away from being too "cutter-crazy."

Growing up in Atlanta meant that Buchanan was a fan of the National League East rival Braves. His favorite player was former Braves and current Giants pitcher Tim Hudson. It isn't hard to see why Buchanan felt a special kinship for the four-time All-Star and winner of 214 career games-both are similarly-built right-handed sinkerballers who rely on the ground ball as their primary means of getting outs.

So, now that Buchanan has reached The Show, has he gotten to meet Hudson?

"Oh yeah," he says with a smile. "We're actually good buddies."

Steven Jacobson is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Crawford gets Minors award, talks promising future

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PHILADELPHIA -- J.P. Crawford's plan for 2015 sounds like a simple one: Get bigger. Get better.

The Phillies on Friday presented Crawford, whom they selected in the first round of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, the Paul Owens Award for the organization's Minor League Player of the Year. Beforehand, he talked about his season with Class A Lakewood and Class A Advanced Clearwater and his future with the Phillies. The 19-year-old shortstop hit a combined .285 with 23 doubles, 11 home runs, 48 RBIs, 69 runs scored, 24 stolen bases and a .781 OPS in 538 plate appearances.

Crawford hit .289 with eight home runs, six doubles, 29 RBIs and a .798 OPS in his final 57 games with Clearwater, where he was one of the youngest players in the league.

"I thought it went really well for my first [full] year," Crawford said. "I think my hitting got a lot better this year."

Crawford hopes to be even better next season. He said he plans to put on more muscle, which he hopes will boost his power. Crawford, who is 6-foot-2, weighed 170 pounds when the Phillies drafted him. He said he weighs 190 pounds today, but wants to weigh 200 pounds when Spring Training opens early next year.

Crawford will participate in instructional league in the fall, but he eventually will return home to Lakewood, Calif., where he will work out with Mets catcher Travis d'Arnaud and Twins outfielder Aaron Hicks.

It is unclear where Crawford will open next season, but given his age, he could start at Clearwater before moving relatively quickly to Double-A Reading. Then again, if he looks good in Spring Training, it would not be a shock to see him open in Reading.

"Wherever they put me, they put me," said Crawford, who participated in this year's All-Star Futures Game. "I don't have an idea. I'll be happy wherever I go and play hard wherever I go."

And as far as a goal to get to the big leagues? It is very possible Crawford could be there by the time he is 21.

Maybe earlier.

"Whenever it's my time, it's my time," he said. "I'm not going to try to rush anything."

There is no need to rush. Not only is Crawford young, but Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins is signed through next season. Rollins, who is nursing a strained left hamstring, is seventh out of 25 qualifying shortstops in baseball this season with a .717 OPS.

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"event":["prospect" ] }

Asche follows duel with walk-off dinger in 10th

Hamels not at his best, but allows just one run; Philly bullpen perfect

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PHILADELPHIA -- Cody Asche began the season as the Phillies' everyday third baseman, but with the emergence of a fresh newcomer jutting into his playing time, every opportunity has become a precious one.

Friday night's opportunity was as precious as it was unique for the 24-year-old third baseman. Asche made his first career start as the No. 2 hitter in the lineup, and he came through with his first career walk-off hit -- a two-run homer in the 10th inning that sent the Phillies to a 3-1 victory over the Marlins at Citizens Bank Park.

"I've been waiting my whole life to do something like that," Asche said.

A moment so anticipated, it demanded cherishing.

"Tried to go as slow as I can," Asche said about his trot around the bases.

Maikel Franco was called up when rosters expanded on Sept. 1, and the highly touted 22-year-old prospect has already significantly cut into Asche's time on the diamond. Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg spoke to Asche on the day Franco was recalled. His message was simple: "Stay ready."

"[Franco's] earned his time here, obviously, so he's going to get his chance to play," Asche said. "That's fine. I can still get better. I still have a month of development. I'm not just going to sit and pout. So you just gotta roll with it."

"He's been terrific," Sandberg said of Asche. "He keeps himself ready to play. He gets his work in, and when he's asked to play, he contributes. So I've been impressed."

Franco has started six games at third base in September to Asche's five.

"It's not the first time since I've been up that I've not played for a span of time," Asche said. "I think early this year, I didn't play for three or four days in a row on a West Coast trip. It's easy to stay in routine when you build one and just try and be ready at all times and be comfortable in who you are and you can do it."

As for 2015, Sandberg could see both young third basemen earning playing time for the Phillies.

"Well, I like both the guys right now," he said. "One is right-handed, one is left-handed. They're good young players. So going forward, seeing how things shake out, but to have both in the lineup at the same time, that'd be a good thing." Franco had been batting second for the Phillies, so Asche's first career start that high in the order was just a matter of continuity, Sandberg said. Asche's approach remained the same.

"Same as always when I see my name in the lineup. You get prepared and you get ready to roll," Asche said. "It's not too much different than hitting in the bottom of the lineup. Hitting second, you're just kind of trying to turn it over to the big boys in the middle, and when you're at the bottom, you're just trying to turn it over the top."

Asche's homer was the capper on what was a tumultuous night for both starters. While the 3-1 final score would indicate a pitchers' duel, Philadelphia's victory over Miami was actually more a display of the two teams' consistent prowess on the mound with danger lingering.

The Marlins went 2-for-10 against Cole Hamels with runners in scoring position, and they left eight men on base. Philly's starter used 111 pitches to get through his seven innings of work, with only one run allowed despite nine hits and a walk. He struck out six and lowered his ERA on the season to 2.51.

The Phillies didn't fare much better off Marlins starter Henderson Alvarez in the clutch, going 0-for-6 with RISP.

But Asche didn't need a runner in scoring position to end it -- another example of his being ready to take advantage when his name is called. Another example of his growth.

"I think there's still a lot there," Asche said about his potential. "Still making those daily adjustments. Just coming to the park and being who you are every single day. I think that's a big challenge that you learn as you get comfortable with your surroundings and teammates, is just to come to the park and be the same guy everyday."

Erik Bacharach is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Phillies lose challenge, can't finish frame fast enough

Marlins drive in game's first run after umpires confirm safe call at first base

Phillies lose challenge, can't finish frame fast enough play video for Phillies lose challenge, can't finish frame fast enough

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies lost an instant replay challenge in the sixth inning, and the Marlins followed with a run on Friday night at Citizens Bank Park.

The Phils thought third baseman Cody Asche threw out Miami's Ed Lucas on a play at first base, which would have ended the inning. But first-base umpire Alan Porter called Lucas safe, which instead put runners at the corners with two outs.

The review lasted just 45 seconds, and the call was confirmed.

Adeiny Hechavarria followed with a bloop single to right to score a run to make it 1-0 Marlins.

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["replay" ] }
{"content":["replay" ] }

Phillies, Pirates remember Sept. 11 during ceremonies

Phillies, Pirates remember Sept. 11 during ceremonies play video for Phillies, Pirates remember Sept. 11 during ceremonies

PHILADELPHIA -- The Pirates-Phillies series finale began with an on-field salute dedicated to members of the military, Philadelphia Police Department, Philadelphia Fire Department and first responders.

Patriot Day at Citizens Bank Park honored the men and women in service while also paying remembrance to the terrorist attacks that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001.

Thursday night also served as the second annual Police & Firefighters Celebration at Citizens Bank Park. The first 500 fans that purchased tickets through the promotion received an exclusive Phillies Police & Firefighters T-shirt.

The national anthem and "America the Beautiful" were performed by the U.S. Army Field Band Brass Quartet, while Philadelphia police officer Nate Fulton sang "God Bless America."

Erik Bacharach is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"event":["prospect" ] }

MLB.com Columnist

Bernie Pleskoff

Hard-hitting Franco brings Phils plenty of promise

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MLB.com Columnist

Bernie Pleskoff

Right-handed-hitting Phillies third-base prospect Maikel Franco is listed at 6-foot-1 and 180 pounds. He looks solid and much bigger than that. Regardless, the man has power to spare. Once Franco refines a few issues, he will be a very welcome source of power at Citizens Bank Park.

Franco was signed as an international free agent from the Dominican Republic in 2010. Now, with parts of five seasons in Philadelphia's Minor League system, he has earned a look on the Major League club after receiving a September callup. Franco is ranked No. 3 on the Phils' Top 20 Prospect list.

I first saw Franco this past spring, when he was an invitee to the Phillies' Major League camp. He had an opportunity to compete with Cody Asche for the third-base job. It wasn't much of a contest, as Franco hit only .184 in 38 at-bats. Instead of going north with the club, Franco was assigned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley, where he had a good season prior to his September invitation to Philadelphia. He hit .257 with 16 homers and 78 RBIs and struck out 81 times in 556 plate appearances. That's significantly low for a player with Franco's power potential. On the flip side, he wasn't very patient at the plate, accepting only 30 free passes.

I was fortunate to get another look at Franco in this year's SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game in Minneapolis. He entered the game as a substitute at third base and went hitless in two at-bats.

Franco reminds me of White Sox outfielder Dayan Viciedo. Both are big and strong and have the same game-changing power potential. Franco is making strides in cutting down his swing -- using his big, strong lower half in his mechanics and relying upon very quick hands through the ball to generate power and loft. Franco's bat speed is special, and so is his power. The ball makes that certain sound when it hits the sweet spot of his bat.

After batting a combined .320 with 31 homers and 103 RBIs in 581 plate appearances for Class A Advanced Clearwater (.299/16/52) and Double-A Reading (.339/15/51) in 2013, Franco won the Phils' Minor League Player of the Year Award. The right-handed slugger hit both lefties and righties well, but he really punished right-handers. Last season, Franco hit .327 against them in 404 plate appearances.

Franco takes some time to get to the ball at the plate. He shifts his weight well, but he keeps his hands back. Franco's bat speed makes up for the ground he has to cover to meet the ball. His excellent hand-eye coordination helps his consistent rhythm and flow as a hitter.

Franco knows the strike zone and swings freely at anything he feels will be a strike. The contact is real, but he should probably be a bit more selective for pitches he can drive more easily. Still, Franco doesn't get fooled very often. Like most young hitters, he could use some work on breaking balls. Franco recognizes them well, but he has to let them go more often. Franco can clobber fastball mistakes that get too much of the plate. That's his greatest asset.

Franco is adequate as a defensive third baseman. He has good footwork and a strong and accurate arm. The Phillies have used Franco sparingly at first base, and that position might be an option at some point. For now, however, he projects as a third baseman with power.

Franco has little speed and could clog the bases. Much will depend upon the jumps he gets, but his lack of speed has to be taken into account. Franco won't be stealing bases, and he might not be able to easily go from first to third.

Franco's speed is not my greatest concern. I think he will continue to develop from a gap/doubles hitter to more of a homer threat. I am concerned about his lower body getting bigger. With his frame, Franco cannot afford to add weight, as that could be an unwanted burden that stalls his progress.

Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. Follow @BerniePleskoff on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Burnett, Phils' young lineup can't handle Pirates

Veteran righty allows four runs in six innings; offense manages six hits

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PHILADELPHIA -- Jimmy Rollins is nursing a strained left hamstring and Chase Utley needed a break, so Freddy Galvis and Cesar Hernandez started at shortstop and second base Thursday night at Citizens Bank Park.

"A little youth movement in the middle tonight," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said before a 4-1 loss to the Pirates, who took three of four in the series.

A little youth movement in a few other places, too.

Maikel Franco, 22, started at third base, while Darin Ruf, 28, started in left field. Ruf is not a young player -- he is two years older than center fielder Ben Revere -- but he is short on experience with only 414 plate appearances in his career. But interim president Pat Gillick and general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. have said recently the organization probably hung on too long to the belief the core of the 2008 World Series championship team could lead the way to one more championship.

That could mean a younger, more flexible roster next season.

"A little different look than we're used to looking at," Sandberg said about his lineup after the game.

It seems rather unlikely the Phillies will go as young every day in 2015. Rollins and Utley are under contract next season and have full no-trade rights, which they previously have said they have no plans on waiving. (Of course, minds have been known to change.) But with a trade here or there, the Phillies could see more of Franco, Galvis, Hernandez, Ruf and Cody Asche next season.

"We've played together in Triple-A, so it wasn't weird at all," Galvis said.

The young guys (and the older ones) had problems with Pirates left-hander Francisco Liriano, who dominated the Phillies lineup. He allowed four hits, two walks and struck out a season-high 12 in eight scoreless innings.

"That's the best I've seen him in a long time," said Phillies right-hander A.J. Burnett, who allowed four runs in six innings. "When he's got his offspeed where he wants it, changeups and sliders, he mixes in the heat a little bit … but when his offspeed is on, he has that kind of night. He's dominating when he's like that. I tried to go toe to toe with him but he executed a few more than I did. Quite a few more."

Hernandez bunted for a leadoff single in the third and Galvis followed with a single to center to put runners on first and second with no outs. But Francisco retired Burnett, Revere and Franco in order to end the inning.

Revere singled and Franco walked with one out in the sixth, but Marlon Byrd popped out and Ryan Howard struck out to end that threat.

Franco continued to impress, making another nice play in the eighth inning, diving to his left to rob Russell Martin of a base hit.

"He seems to be a good defensive third baseman," Burnett said. "He's always having fun, comes in and works hard. That's for sure."

Burnett allowed one run through five innings before he allowed three runs in the sixth to make it 4-0. The inning started with a single to Travis Snider and back-to-back doubles to Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker to score the inning's first run. Martin followed with a sacrifice fly to the left-field wall to score McCutchen and a single to right for Gregory Polanco scored Walker.

"Balls over the plate," Burnett said. "I had positions where I could put guys away and I didn't put them away tonight."

It was Burnett's 31st start of the season. His next start increases his 2015 player option to $12.75 million.

Burnett, 37, has not said if he plans to pitch next season.

He dropped to 8-16, becoming the first Phillies pitcher to lose 16 or more games in a season since Mark Leiter lost 17 in 1997.

The Phillies scored a run in the ninth against Pirates reliever Jared Hughes, who put the first two runners on, but Mark Melancon got out of the jam.

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Utley resting more as September grind hits

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PHILADELPHIA -- Chase Utley burst out of the starting gates in 2014, his red-hot play paving the way to his sixth All-Star Game selection. But Utley has seen a steady digression in his performance as the team has tread deeper into the year, potentially a result of the grind associated with a 162-game season.

"He's found a system that agrees with him in the offseason," manager Ryne Sandberg said of Utley. "This year he showed up to Spring Training very strong-looking, very fit and it's the grind of the season that he loses some of that strength. It's really hard to maintain that. He continues to lift and do his things throughout-a-week program, but it's not to the extent that he does in the offseason."

Utley has already been held out of the starting lineup three times in the 10 games the Phillies have played in September.

"Just picking some spots this stage of the season," Sandberg said. "He was receptive. It makes sense in a lot of ways."

One option to eliminate the demands of playing second base on a daily basis would be sliding him to first base. Utley has appeared at first in 27 games over his 12-year career, and the less extensive physical toll of the position could pay dividends in keeping Utley fresher, longer.

"I think playing first base would eliminate a little bit of wear and tear at that position. Whether that's a consideration has yet to be seen," Sandberg said.

The biggest obstacle standing in the way of getting Utley regular time at first would obviously be their current everyday first baseman, Ryan Howard. Rumors circulated in July about the Phillies working diligently to find a suitor for Howard, but the 34-year-old survived the July 31 Non-Waiver Trade Deadline.

There was even chatter about the Phillies considering releasing the highest-paid position player in 2014, but Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. dispelled that notion.

Howard is owed $25 million over the next two seasons, and remains a candidate to be traded in the offseason.

Erik Bacharach is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Brown available to pinch-hit; Rollins improving

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PHILADELPHIA -- Domonic Brown sustained an injury while diving for a ball in left field on Wednesday night, but it should not keep the 27-year-old sidelined much longer. Although held out of the starting lineup on Thursday, he was available to pinch-hit, and would have sat in favor of right-handed bat Darin Ruf with southpaw Francisco Liriano pitching for Pittsburgh.

"He's available. He got a little stinger last night in his shoulder area that he initially felt. It tightened up a little bit as we went along but the bigger issue out there was he just got the wind knocked out of him," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said.

Shortstop Jimmy Rollins, meanwhile, remains day to day with a mild left hamstring strain that he suffered on Monday night while legging out a triple.

"Jimmy's progressing with some activities inside," Sandberg said. "Some exercise work and some things. He seems to be doing better."

There is still no timetable for Rollins' return, but Sandberg said that even if it weren't September and rosters were at their usual 25-player limit, Rollins would probably not be a candidate to be placed on the disabled list to make room for another player.

"I don't think so. The way that he's progressed the last couple of days is pretty good. Pretty good progressions, so we'll see how it goes," Sandberg said.

Erik Bacharach is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"event":["prospect" ] }

Crawford, Garcia honored as top Minor Leaguers

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PHILADELPHIA -- Two of the brightest spots in the Phillies' Minor League system were honored for their terrific 2014 campaigns on Wednesday.

Shortstop J.P. Crawford, who is the Phillies' top prospect, and right-hander Luis Garcia were named the recipients of the 2014 Paul Owens Awards as the best player and pitcher, respectively, in Philadelphia's farm system.

Garcia went 2-1 with a 0.96 ERA in 39 games for Triple-A Lehigh Valley, a year after posting a 1.51 ERA in 41 2/3 innings split between three levels of Philadelphia's Minor League system. The 27-year-old Santo Domingo native converted 22 of his 25 save opportunities while with the IronPigs, tying him for the International League lead in saves. Considering his performance, Garcia wasn't exactly shocked when he heard he had won.

"I was doing great down there," said Garcia, who was a 2014 International League All-Star and named the IronPigs' Pitcher of the Year by media members who cover the club. "It's great to work hard and get awarded for what you did."

Garcia was recalled to the Majors when rosters expanded on Sept. 1, and he has seen some carryover. Garcia has struck out three of the five batters he's faced since his return to the Phillies, while hitting the high 90s with his fastball -- higher than he's ever thrown in the big leagues.

"I just try to do the same thing I was doing down there. It's working," Garcia said. "I hope so to stay here. To see what happens, just keep doing my job and let's see."

"I have to give him credit these last couple of outings since coming back in September, he's shown the stuff, he's shown the live fastball and he showed a slider," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "So I prefer to look at it as his last two outings and base things on that. This could be a very good September for him, going into the offseason with the year that he's had at Lehigh Valley and hopefully translating that over to doing that at the Major League level. He could be an interesting guy for us."

Garcia will play for the Estrellas Orientales in the Dominican Winter League to stay in form.

Crawford, meanwhile, hit .285 with 23 doubles, 11 home runs, 48 RBIs, 69 runs scored and 24 stolen bases in 123 games this season split between Class A Lakewood and Class A Advanced Clearwater. The 19-year-old is the second-youngest position player to receive the Paul Owens Award, behind Jimmy Rollins, who was 18 when he was honored in 1997.

Crawford was selected 16th overall in the first round of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft.

"J.P.'s first full season as professional was a huge success," director of player development Jo Jordan said. "He is a very determined and competitive player, a good teammate and makes players around him better. The Phillies are extremely excited to watch his continued progress in 2015."

Erik Bacharach is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Back home, Worley keeps Phils' bats in check

Williams hits two-run single, but starter gives up pair of homers in fifth

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PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies traded Vance Worley in December 2012, but he never left Philadelphia.

Worley still lives in the city, but Wednesday was his first opportunity to pitch against his former team. The right-hander would have preferred a better performance, but he pitched well enough to help lead the Pirates to a 6-3 victory at Citizens Bank Park.

Worley allowed four hits, three runs, two walks and struck out four in just five innings, while Phillies pitchers Jerome Williams and Luis Garcia allowed six runs in five-plus innings.

"I wouldn't say there was any extra emotion," Worley said on a humid night. "Just extra sweat, and that's about it. … I don't treat any start any different. I've always been that way."

It is interesting to look back at the Worley trade. The Phillies shipped him and pitching prospect Trevor May to the Twins for center fielder Ben Revere. Philadelphia considered starting pitching a position of strength at the time, so the club felt it could afford to trade two starters for a center fielder. The Phillies certainly needed one. They traded Shane Victorino to the Dodgers that July and the farm system had nobody capable of being an everyday center fielder.

"We just felt getting a controllable player with quite a bit of upside, we felt like he was a good fit for us," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said at the time.

Worley is 7-4 with a 3.18 ERA in 16 appearances (15 starts) this season after resurrecting his career following a miserable year with the Twins in 2013. Revere is hitting .308 with 43 stolen bases.

Who would the Phillies take right now if they had the choice?

It is an interesting hypothetical, only because they have multiple holes to fill in the offseason, with some of them possibly coming in the rotation and outfield. Cole Hamels and David Buchanan figure to be in next season's rotation. Cliff Lee is a question mark because of a strained left flexor pronator, although Amaro said Wednesday he expects Lee to be ready to go. A.J. Burnett could be back, if he picks up his $11.75 million player option. Kyle Kendrick and Williams are free agents after the season.

The Phillies also need more punch offensively. Left field needs to be figured out and Marlon Byrd could be traded, but is Revere the guy in center field? He is pursuing the National League batting title -- his 0-for-4 effort Wednesday didn't help the cause -- but his .700 OPS entering the night ranked just 112th out of 152 qualifying hitters in baseball and his arm has hurt them defensively.

The Pirates jumped to a 2-0 lead in the first inning as Williams slogged through a 37-pitch inning, but the Phillies chipped away at Worley. They cut the lead to 2-1 in the second when Cody Asche doubled and scored on Wil Nieves' single to left.

The Phillies took a 3-2 lead in the fourth. Worley started the inning with a walk to Ryan Howard. Asche followed two batters later with a bloop single to left field to put runners on first and second. Nieves flied out to right field, but Worley walked Freddy Galvis on five pitches to load the bases.

Worley only needed to get Williams to end the threat, but Williams laced a single to right field to score Howard and Asche.

"Overall, stuff was sloppy," Worley said. "It did the opposite of what I wanted the ball to do. I made it work tonight."

The lead didn't last. Andrew McCutchen hit a stand-up inside-the-park home run in the fifth, a ball Revere could have played better off the left-center-field wall. He tried to make the catch at the wall, but the ball simply hit too high off it. The ball ricocheted toward right field, but it took Grady Sizemore a while to get there to pick it up.

Russell Martin then hit a solo homer to left to make it 4-3.

"It was hit hard, high up on the wall," manager Ryne Sandberg said about McCutchen's homer. "Ben's got a tough read there as far as going over to the angle. Looking at it, get some help from the right fielder on that to at least keep that to a double or a triple."

Garcia allowed four consecutive hits to start the sixth inning as the Pirates scored twice to make it 6-3, while four Pirates relievers held the Phillies hitless through the final four innings.

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["injury" ] }

Brown dealing with bruised left shoulder

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PHILADELPHIA -- Left fielder Domonic Brown exited Wednesday's 6-3 loss to the Pirates in the bottom of the sixth due to a bruised left shoulder he sustained earlier in the game.

With two outs in the top of the fifth, Travis Snider lined a ball to left field, and Brown fully extended as he dove for it. Brown came up empty, and braced his landing with his left elbow.

Brown remained on the ground in pain following his lunge.

"He didn't feel it initially. The wind was knocked out of him also," said manager Ryne Sandberg. "That's why he laid back down. His shoulder stiffened up on him as the game went on."

With Brown due to lead off the bottom of the sixth, Sandberg pulled him in favor of pinch-hitter Darin Ruf, who remained in the game in left field.

Erik Bacharach is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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{"content":["injury" ] }

Lee to begin throwing program in November

Lee to begin throwing program in November play video for Lee to begin throwing program in November

PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said that Cliff Lee is targeting early November to begin a throwing program. The 36-year-old left-hander is on the 60-day DL after suffering a reoccurrence of a left elbow strain on July 31 that derailed his 2014 season.

Lee was examined on Monday by Dr. Michael Ciccotti and had follow-up appointments with Dr. James Andrews and Dr. David Altchek. Lee received a platelet-rich plasma injection, which takes four to six weeks to kick in.

"He's improved. The plan of care is not going to change," Amaro said. "The plan was to have him start throwing in November. He's not 100 percent ready to throw yet, which we didn't plan on having him be at this point anyway."

Lee is set to return to Philly during the last homestand of the season that begins on Sept. 26 to be re-examined.

"Cliff is going to come back for another exam at the very end of the year," Amaro said. "We'll see him one more time at our last homestand, and then he'll continue doing whatever his rehab is up until then. Come back, be examined again, and then we'll go from there."

Amaro said he was confident that Lee will be a contributor in 2015.

Worth noting

• Amaro reiterated that there's no timeline for Jimmy Rollin's return from a mild left hamstring strain that he suffered on Monday night, but that he continues to progress and upped his activity on Wednesday.

"He's improved today," Amaro said. "I think he's going to do a little bit more activity today. I don't know if he's going to do baseball activity. I don't think he's ready to do that. But I just talked to him and he said he's much improved from [Monday] and improved from [Tuesday]. So he's progressing."

Erik Bacharach is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["injury" ] }
{"event":["prospect" ] }

Prospect Franco shows off bat, glove for Phils

Third baseman hits double, drives in winning run and makes a great diving stop

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PHILADELPHIA -- Maikel Franco had more than one thing to be proud about Tuesday night at Citizens Bank Park.

He hustled for a double in the first inning, saved a run with a great diving catch in the fifth inning and singled to score the winning run in the seventh inning in a 4-3 victory over the Pirates. Asked which play stuck out, he said the game-winning hit.

"I helped my teammates and my team win," said Franco, who is ranked by MLB.com as the Phillies' No. 3 prospect. "That's what I'm looking for. Just try to do something to help my team. That's what happened."

Franco is just five games into his big league career, but the Phillies hope to see more nights like Tuesday. He went 2-for-4 with one double, one RBI and one run-saving play to go along with his typically smooth defense at third base.

"He's got everything to be good," Phillies shortstop Freddy Galvis said. "He just has to keep working, keep learning. He's real young, so he just has to keep learning and hopefully he'll be one of the best third basemen."

Franco earned his first career double in the first inning in atypical fashion. He popped up a 2-1 fastball from Pirates right-hander Edinson Volquez just a few feet behind the infield dirt in shallow right field. Franco broke hard out of the batter's box and never slowed, which paid off because Pirates second baseman Neil Walker lost the ball. It dropped between him and right fielder Gregory Polanco as Franco slid headfirst safely into second base for the first extra-base hit of his career.

"I knew that the thing I had to do was run hard and try to make it to second base," Franco said.

"That's playing the game the right way," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said.

Chase Utley followed and singled to left-center field. Franco read the ball well, moving toward third on contact and scoring easily once it dropped to hand the Phillies a 1-0 lead.

"Good instincts, getting off second base," Sandberg said. "He was still under control, having a look at it. And once he saw the ball was going to drop he was ready to score."

The Pirates had a runner on second with one out in the fifth when Andrew McCutchen smoked a ball down the third-base line. But Franco dove to his right, caught the ball, got up and fired a strike to Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard to get McCutchen for the second out.

Franco later ripped a two-out single to right field in the seventh inning to score Galvis from second base to give the Phillies a 4-3 lead.

"I'm feeling more comfortable out there," Franco said. "I'm trying to see very good pitches and go out there and not think about nothing. Just trying to see the ball and hit the ball hard."

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"event":["prospect" ] }
{"event":["prospect" ] }

Filling in for Rollins, Galvis drives Phils to win

Shortstop scores winning run during his best offensive game of '14

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PHILADELPHIA -- Freddy Galvis is getting his chance this September. Already set to receive sprinkled starts with the Phillies out of contention and evaluating their roster for 2015, his playing time got an even bigger boost with Jimmy Rollins day to day due to a left hamstring strain. On Tuesday night at Citizens Bank Park, Galvis delivered, powering the Philadelphia offense from the eighth-spot in the lineup.

Entering the game 5-for-59 (.085) this season, Galvis went 3-for-3 with a homer and three runs scored, including the go-ahead run that gave the Phillies a 4-3 victory over the Pirates.

"I feel awesome. To have a good game, have a chance to play, do good and help the team win, that's good," Galvis said.

Galvis credited a few weeks playing for Triple-A Lehigh Valley with helping him find his stroke after a slow start to the season.

"After a few weeks in Lehigh, playing every day, I started to get my swing back and felt much better," Galvis said.

From Aug. 5 until his final day with the IronPigs on Aug. 22, Galvis hit .317 with three homers and 10 RBI in 63 at-bats.

"I felt Freddy was behind the eight ball when he was first here early on with the lack of Spring Training," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "His timing was off and he was just in a little bit of a hole that was hard to get out of when you don't have timing. He went to Lehigh Valley, swung the bat very well and made the most of his time there, played very good."

Maikel Franco set the table in the first with some help from the Citizens Bank Park lights. He hit a towering popup to shallow right field that both second baseman Neil Walker and right fielder Gregory Polanco lost in the glare, allowing the ball to land between the two and Franco to reach second for his first career double. Chase Utley singled him home in the next at-bat.

A dropped popup by catcher Carlos Ruiz opened the door for the game-tying run in the second. Russell Martin singled but was thrown out at second trying to stretch it into a double, and after Ruiz's error lent way to a Polanco walk with two outs, Jordy Mercer doubled to drive in Polanco.

In the second, Galvis turned on a high sinker from Pirates starter Edinson Volquez, banging it off the top of the out-of-town scoreboard in right field for his first double of the season. Phillies starter David Buchanan helped his own cause in the next at-bat by scorching a grounder up the middle for his second career hit and RBI to make it 2-1.

Martin hit a two-run double with two outs in the third against Buchanan, who needed 60 pitches to get the first nine outs. But from there, the 25-year-old rookie needed just nine pitches during a perfect fourth as he settled in. He went six innings and allowed three runs (two earned) on four hits and three walks while striking out five.

Three early walks all came home to score against Buchanan, so he took a moment to find his composure midway through his outing.

"After that third inning, I was pretty upset and I kind of went down back in the tunnel and really kind of had a moment to myself, just to tell me to clean up it up and start throwing the ball over the plate," Buchanan said. "So for the rest of the game, I told myself, pitch by pitch, get strike one. All right, now let's get strike two. So, main thing, just start using my fastball more and just really focus on hitting my spots."

Galvis clocked another sinker from Volquez in the fifth, this time sending it 10 rows deep into the right-field stands for his second homer of the season, tying the game at 3.

"I was behind in the count," Volquez said. "He put a good swing on the ball and he hit it out, the first one he hit a double. That's going to happen when you throw the ball right in the middle."

Galvis hit a leadoff single in the seventh, and after stealing second, he was brought home on a single by Franco for the game-winning run.

"That's what I'm looking for," Franco said. "To do something to help my team."

The Phillies' bullpen, which entered the game with a Major League-best 2.05 ERA since Aug. 5, added to that number with three scoreless innings in relief of Buchanan.

"They've been doing that all year, in my opinion," Buchanan said. "You never want to come out of the game, obviously. But being here, with the bullpen the way it is, when you come out of a game, you're pretty confident it's shut down from then on."

Erik Bacharach is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Trio to get time at short with Rollins sidelined

Galvis, Hernandez and Blanco should have opportunities to impress Phils

Trio to get time at short with Rollins sidelined play video for Trio to get time at short with Rollins sidelined

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies will get an extended look at Freddy Galvis, Cesar Hernandez and Andres Blanco at shortstop down the stretch with Jimmy Rollins nursing a mild left hamstring strain. It's an opportunity for the Phillies to evaluate some of their bench options moving forward.

Galvis, Hernandez and Blanco each have similar skill sets. They are all switch-hitters and can play second base, short and third.

"We've got three guys really out of the same mold in some regards," said manager Ryne Sandberg.

Sandberg said he believes both Galvis and Hernandez have the ability to be everyday players in the Major Leagues. But is there room for both players on the same Major League roster next year?

"Well, I see Freddy more comfortable at shortstop as we speak," Sandberg said. "I think Cesar has come a long way with his third base, but there's still a lack of experience there, so I see him most comfortable at second base right now, with third base and short as another option. Freddy is a little more polished, I would say, at those positions. I think both have the ability to hit."

Rollins suffered the injury during Monday's loss to the Pirates and said after the game he expects to miss roughly 10 days. An ultrasound on the hamstring Tuesday revealed a mild strain.

Sandberg said he expects Rollins to play again at some point this season. When asked how he plans to rotate Galvis, Hernandez and Blanco at short in Rollins' absence, the manager said, "We'll see."

Galvis started at short during Tuesday's 4-3 win. He went 3-for-3 with a single, a double and a home run, and scored the game-winning run in the seventh inning on a single by Maikel Franco.

Austin Laymance is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jalaymance. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Phils to lessen workload of Diekman, Giles

Phils to lessen workload of Diekman, Giles play video for Phils to lessen workload of Diekman, Giles

PHILADELPHIA -- Jake Diekman and Ken Giles will have a reduced workload out of the bullpen over the final weeks of the season, Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said on Tuesday.

Diekman, 27, has pitched a career-high 65 innings this season. Giles, 23, has tossed 67 1/3 innings combined between the Majors and Minors, and the Phils need to keep them healthy. The club already saw rookie left-hander Mario Hollands go down with an arm injury last week. So it makes sense for Diekman and Giles to have their workloads monitored the rest of the month.

"I've already started that process," Sandberg said. "New territory for them in some regards."

It's also an opportunity for the Phillies to evaluate other young relievers in the bullpen, including Luis Garcia and Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez.

"It's a chance to see some other arms," Sandberg said.

Austin Laymance is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jalaymance. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["replay" ] }

Marte has home run overturned by instant replay

Marte has home run overturned by instant replay play video for Marte has home run overturned by instant replay

PHILADELPHIA -- A crew chief review of a disputed home run in the fifth inning went the Phillies' way on Tuesday at Citizens Bank Park.

Pirates left fielder Starling Marte hit a ball to deep left-center field. A fan reached over the top of the wall near the 409-foot sign, and second-base umpire Ed Hickox ruled the ball a home run. After review, the call was overturned and Marte went to second base with a double.

A replay showed the ball would have struck the top of the fence and not sailed over the wall.

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["replay" ] }

Rollins gets Phils going, but late rally falls short

Shortstop triples, scores before exiting due to left hamstring strain

Rollins gets Phils going, but late rally falls short play video for Rollins gets Phils going, but late rally falls short

PHILADELPHIA -- Ruben Amaro Jr. recently acknowledged the Phillies need to make significant changes to the roster in the offseason, and Pat Gillick recently indicated the organization hung on too long to the core of the 2008 World Series championship team.

Only the general manager and interim president know if real change is coming, but Monday's 6-4 loss to the Pirates at Citizens Bank Park at least reminded everybody that Jimmy Rollins remains a productive shortstop without anybody in the organization ready to replace him.

He tripled and scored in the fourth inning before leaving the game with a strained left hamstring.

Rollins said he will have an ultrasound Tuesday, but he expects to miss some time.

"Oh, there's never a couple of days with hamstrings," he said. "No matter if it's a Grade 1 or what, you're looking at 10 days. So, just going off of that, hopefully I can get back somewhere around Oakland [on Sept. 19]. Finish out then. Maybe before that. I'll just set my eyes there. I'm not trying to do anything too strenuous."

Rollins, who grew up an A's fan in Alameda, Calif., went 1-for-2 on Monday to improve his batting average to .243 and his OPS to .717. Those might not seem like overly impressive numbers, but compare him to the rest of the shortstops in baseball and they put him among the top third.

He entered the night ranked ninth among 25 qualifying shortstops in OPS (.711). He also was tied for first in stolen bases (28), second in runs (75), fourth in home runs (16), seventh in total bases (202) and seventh in on-base percentage (.324). He continues to play solid shortstop on a team that needs all the good defense it can get.

"He's been very durable," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "He's made the routine plays. He's done very well on the defensive side of things. He's been a good baserunner for us. Overall, he's really done a good job on the offensive side of things, being a spark at the top."

Freddy Galvis replaced Rollins in the fifth. He entered the night hitting .086 (5-for-58) with a career .212 batting average and a career .597 OPS. The Phillies considered him a possibility to replace Rollins as the everyday shortstop before they re-signed Rollins to a three-year, $33 million contract before the 2012 season. The deal included an $11 million option for 2015 that already vested based on plate appearances, which means Rollins is under contract to be the Phillies' shortstop next season.

It seems likely he will, based on the fact the Phillies have no heir apparent -- top prospect J.P. Crawford is at least a year away -- and Rollins has indicated he has no desire to waive his full no-trade rights.

Galvis, Andres Blanco and perhaps Cesar Hernandez could see time at shortstop while Rollins nurses the hamstring injury.

But it was Rollins who provided the Phillies' only offensive highlight against Pirates left-hander Jeff Locke, who retired the first 10 batters he faced.

Not a single baseball left the infield until Rollins tripled into the right-field corner with one out in the fourth. Rollins grabbed at his left leg upon reaching third base, but he remained in the game. He made no attempt to score as Chase Utley grounded out for the second out, but found his way home when Ryan Howard singled to right to make it 1-0.

"Now, it's sore," Rollins said. "When it happened, I wasn't sure if it was a cramp or a slight strain because it wasn't very severe. As adrenaline wears down, it just gets a little more sore. It wasn't anything serious. But they'll have to pull me out of the game before I do something crazy."

The Pirates took a 2-1 lead in the fifth inning when Starling Marte crushed a two-run home run to left-center field against Phillies right-hander Kyle Kendrick.

Kendrick started the eighth inning with 111 pitches and promptly allowed three hits before Sandberg pulled him at 118 pitches. All three runs scored to make it 5-1. Left-hander Jake Diekman allowed another run in the inning to make it 6-1.

Kendrick said he asked Sandberg to start the eighth.

"How about one more? If a guy gets on, take me out," Kendrick said. "He agreed. … It didn't work out. I don't know if I'll make that mistake again."

Kendrick, who can become a free agent after this season, watched his ERA jump from 4.77 to 4.83 as a result.

The Phillies responded with three runs in the bottom of the eighth, but Marlon Byrd, who represented the go-ahead run, hit into an inning-ending forceout.

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["injury" ] }

Rollins to miss some time with hamstring strain

Phillies shortstop exits after hitting triple, scoring in fourth inning vs. Pirates

Rollins to miss some time with hamstring strain play video for Rollins to miss some time with hamstring strain

PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins left the 6-4 loss against the Pirates on Monday night after he suffered a left hamstring strain while legging out a triple with one out in the bottom of the fourth. He looked uncomfortable and grabbed his hamstring at third base before trotting home on a single by Ryan Howard.

"It was just one of those things. Reaching out for the bag and just felt it grab a little," Rollins said. "I almost stopped. I decided to keep going. Think it was easier to keep going than it was to stop."

Rollins said after Monday's game that he expects to be sidelined for roughly 10 days.

"Oh, there's never a couple of days with hamstrings," he said. "No matter if it's a Grade 1 or what, you're looking at 10 days. So, just going off of that, hopefully I can get back somewhere around Oakland [on Sept. 19]. Finish out then. Maybe before that. I'll just set my eyes there. I'm not trying to do anything too strenuous."

The 35-year-old has played in 138 of the team's 143 games this season. He logged 160 games in 2013 and 156 in '12.

A strained right calf plagued Rollins in 2010, limiting him to 88 games. But Rollins noticed a stark contrast in severity between that injury and the one he encountered on Monday.

"It isn't that severe," Rollins said. "Obviously, we'll do an ultrasound tomorrow to check the severity of it. But unfortunately, I remember what the calf felt like and I knew that was bad. This isn't anywhere close to that. That's why I stayed [out of the game], because I wasn't sure if I was cramping a little bit or I aggravated it. And it's a little sore now, so I know I aggravated it."

Rollins is batting .243 with 17 homers, 55 RBIs, 78 runs and 28 stolen bases this season, a year after hitting just six homers and tallying 39 RBIs and 65 runs. Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg has also noticed an improvement in the field.

"I think he's played an outstanding shortstop," Sandberg said. "His arm has really improved over last year, his arm strength. He's been very durable. He's made the routine plays. He's done very well on the defensive side of things. He's been a good baserunner for us. He's stolen bases. I'd say overall, he's really done a good job on the offensive side of things. Gives us a spark at the top."

Freddy Galvis replaced Rollins at short in the fifth inning.

Erik Bacharach is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["injury" ] }

Phillies to open '15 at home vs. Red Sox

Club to face AL East in Interleague Play, close out year against NL East

Phillies to open '15 at home vs. Red Sox

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies are scheduled to open the 2015 regular season at home against Shane Victorino and the Red Sox on April 6 at Citizens Bank Park.

It is the first time the Phillies are opening a season at home since 2011.

The Phillies finish the 162-game schedule on Oct. 4 at home against the Marlins. They play their final 18 games against National League East rivals.

The Phillies host the Red Sox (April 6-9), Orioles (June 17-18), Rays (July 20-22) and Blue Jays (Aug. 18-19) in Interleague Play. They travel to the Orioles (June 15-16), Yankees (June 22-24), Blue Jays (July 28-29) and Red Sox (Sept. 4-6).

Phillies fans are always looking for a good road trip. A West Coast swing against the Dodgers (July 6-9) and Giants (July 10-12) immediately before the All-Star break would be a good one to catch. A weekend at Wrigley Field against the Cubs (July 24-26) is always a winner. Fenway Park is always a popular destination.

The Phillies will spend the majority of June at home (16 home games, 11 away), while spending most of May (13 home, 16 away) and July (10 home, 15 away) on the road. 

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"event":["prospect" ] }

Franco, Whitehead honored for play in Minors

No. 3 prospect named Player of the Month for August; righty named Pitcher of the Month

Franco, Whitehead honored for play in Minors play video for Franco, Whitehead honored for play in Minors

PHILADELPHIA -- Maikel Franco is getting his first chance in the big leagues this September, but on Monday, the 22-year-old third baseman was honored for what he accomplished in the Minors the previous month.

Franco was named the Phillies Minor League Player of the Month for the second consecutive month, while right-hander David Whitehead scooped up Pitcher of the Month after his stellar August for Class A Williamsport.

Franco is ranked by MLB.com as the No. 3 prospect in the Phillies' system.

Franco hit .308 with seven home runs, 24 RBIs and an .883 OPS for Triple-A Lehigh Valley in August. He hit safely in 21 of the 29 games he played in the month and compiled 11 multihit games.

Whitehead, meanwhile, went 2-1 with a 0.67 ERA in five August appearances. He tallied 17 strikeouts without allowing a walk in his 27 innings of work. Opponents hit just .234 (25-for-107) against the 6-foot-4 righty.

Erik Bacharach is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"event":["prospect" ] }

Hamels takes rare loss to Nationals in finale

Southpaw's balk leads to go-ahead run; Phils miss shot at sweep

Hamels takes rare loss to Nationals in finale play video for Hamels takes rare loss to Nationals in finale

WASHINGTON -- Cole Hamels has been on the losing end of plenty of games -- 81 to be exact -- but he couldn't recall the last time a balk did him in.

Hamels' first balk since 2012 proved to be the difference as Philadelphia couldn't finish off its second straight sweep of Washington, dropping a 3-2 decision on Sunday at Nationals Park despite another solid pitching performance from its ace.

"No, but I know I've lost some pretty weird games," Hamels said when asked if he's ever suffered a loss by balk. "It's unfortunate."

In the sixth inning of a 2-2 contest, Hamels (8-7) allowed a one-out double to Washington's Ian Desmond. As Hamels attempted to keep the speedy Desmond close to the bag, first-base umpire Chad Fairchild called a balk, allowing Desmond to move up to third.

"[Fairchild] said that I hitched twice," Hamels said. "That I came up and then turned, but I think that he was just looking at my back foot as opposed to my front leg, because it was continuing the whole time. When I spin, my cleat sometimes gets caught, so it causes kind of like a jump. I'll keep doing what I can do. If they keep calling it, then, obviously, I guess I have a problem. I didn't think it was a balk. It's a first. I've been doing the same move since I've gotten to the big leagues."

Scott Hairston delivered a sacrifice fly to deep left field to bring in Desmond and give the Nationals a 3-2 advantage that would stand up.

"I got lucky with Hairston not hitting a homer, because I know that would have been 85 rows deep at our field," Hamels said. "But the pitch to Desmond was a bad pitch. It was up, and if I would have been able to at least get it down, it would have been a groundout right to the third baseman. That's the pitch, right there. I guess if it didn't happen, we might still be playing."

In 6 1/3 innings, Hamels allowed three runs on seven hits while striking out seven -- the 19th straight start he has allowed three earned runs or fewer. But some errant command, which led to two home runs by Washington first baseman Adam LaRoche, and the balk prevented him from having a shot at picking up his 16th career victory against the Nats.

"Cole wasn't as sharp with his command and just controlling the ball," manager Ryne Sandberg said. "And then the balk kind of came into play. It was a questionable call. He does that often."

The Phillies attempted to rally in the eighth, as pinch-hitter Ben Revere opened the inning with a single off reliever Tyler Clippard. Revere appeared to steal second and was ruled safe, but Nationals manager Matt Williams successfully had the called overturned via challenge to thwart the comeback attempt.

Philadelphia was hurt by another tough call in the first inning after breaking through against Washington starter Gio Gonzalez (8-9). Grady Sizemore singled before Marlon Byrd broke an 0-for-17 skid with a single to center. Nats center fielder Denard Span attempted to nab Sizemore at third, but his throw went wide, giving Sizemore a chance to head home. Third baseman Anthony Rendon tried to catch Sizemore at the plate, but his throw went into the dugout, giving the Phillies a 1-0 lead.

Sandberg came out to question whether Byrd should have been awarded home since he was already at or past second base. The umpires huddled, then went to review the play -- only to be told it was unreviewable. They decided that Byrd had not reached second before the ball went out of play, costing the Phillies another run as Byrd was awarded third.

"I have no clue," Byrd said about reaching second. "I slipped. I was on the ground. I hit the bag and slipped, tried to pop up and saw the ball. I actually saw Grady running, and that's why I took off. All year long, I really don't know the rules. The plays at the plate, what can be reviewed, what can't. I have no clue. I think that'd take a while, going back and looking at the rulebook, trying to figure everything out."

In the fourth, Carlos Ruiz led off with a double and Byrd followed with a single through the hole at third. Darin Ruf picked up his seventh RBI of the season with a sacrifice fly to right to put the Phillies up, 2-1, though LaRoche would tie the game in the bottom of the frame with his sixth career home run against Hamels.

"It was just one of those days where he left a couple of pitches right over the plate," LaRoche said.

Despite the loss, Philadelphia finished its season series with the Nationals with a 10-9 advantage. However, the Phils fell to 0-9 in Sunday road games since April 27 and have won just three times in their last 16 Sunday contests.

Elliott Smith is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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