When the Phillies opted to go with a "bullpen game" in last night's contest against the Pirates, it meant that today's starter had to at least keep the game close heading into the 7th inning for the team or the bullpen to have a chance to win.
It didn't look like that was going to happen for Kyle Kendrick.
Kendrick allowed five runs to the Pirates in the top of the first inning, putting the Phillies in an early whole in a game he needed to pitch well in. The five-run outburst was both the most the Phillies have allowed in the first inning and the most the Pirates have scored in the first inning this season.
Charlie Manuel and the Phillies couldn't afford to go to the bullpen any earlier than the 7th inning in today's game, and that looked like a mountain that Kendrick wouldn't be able to climb today.
He kept his cool, however, and settled into a really nice groove over the following six innings. Kendrick finished with seven innings pitched, allowing the five first inning runs on six hits overall while stiking out six batters. The offensive burst in the first inning proved to be enough for the Pirates though, as Kendrick (2-8, 5.35 ERA) and the Phillies lost this one 5-4 after a valiant comeback effort.
Erik Kratz, who started at catcher in place of Carlos Ruiz, hit a two-run blast to put the Phillies on the board in the second inning. Placido Polanco knocked in the third run of the day for the Phils with an RBI groundout that pulled them within two runs and brought some life into a stadium that fell into a lull after a five-run deficit and several innings of great pitching by both Kendrick and Pirates' starter AJ Burnett (9-2, 3.31 ERA).
Hunter Pence led off the bottom of the 8th inning with a solo blast that brought the Phillies within one run at 5-4. It was Pence's 14th home run of the season and his 45th RBI. The offense couldn't muster up another run, however, despite rallies in both the 8th and 9th innings.
In the 8th, the Phillies had runners on first and second base when Charlie Manuel elected to pinch-hit Jim Thome for Erik Kratz in the 8-hole. Thome struck out for the second out of the inning in yet another disappointing at-bat as a pinch-hitter.
Carlos Ruiz pinch-hit in the pitcher's spot after Thome, but Pirates' first baseman Casey McGehee made a great grab in foul territory to end the threat in the 8th. McGehee twisted and turned when searching for the ball, and ended up halfway into the first row after making the catch. McGehee also hit a three-run home run in the first inning which gave the Pirates the lead for good.
Jimmy Rollins got on base to lead-off the bottom of the 9th inning, but he never reached home as their rally fell short once again. The Phillies dropped their second straight game to the Pirates, who salvaged a split in this four-game series despite losing the first two games at Citizens Bank Park.