For 3rd time in a week, Phillies hit a dramatic late home run only to lose


If only the Phillies could parlay some of these dramatic, clutch hits into wins.

For the third time in seven games, the Phillies hit a home run in the eighth inning or later that either tied the game or put them ahead. 

They've lost all three.

After Corey Knebel allowed a ninth-inning homer for the second time in about 20 hours, Kyle Schwarber picked him up with a game-tying solo shot on the second pitch of the bottom of the ninth.

The game went into extra innings, where Giants catcher Curt Casali hit a game-winning two-run shot off of Andrew Bellatti. The 5-4 loss was the fourth in a row for the struggling Phillies, who are 21-28 and the farthest they've been below .500 since the final day of the 2017 season.

That was a long time ago. That was pre-Gabe Kapler, who shook hands with his Giants players after beating Joe Girardi's Phils in the first of three games this week.

"I wouldn't say it's a tough month for me, I've just had two bad outings in a row," Knebel said. "Two solo homers, that's it."

Knebel did not allow an earned run in nine of his first 10 appearances this season. Since then, he's given up seven earned runs in 10⅔ innings, and obviously, the timing of those runs have been devastating.

Girardi, who gave Knebel a vote of confidence as the closer earlier in the day, reiterated that he will still be the guy in the ninth inning.

"It's tough but you know, everybody in that room has gone through hard times in life," Girardi said. "And you get to the other side or you wouldn't be in that room. Sometimes, what you're going through seems like the worst thing you've ever been through and if you look back, you can probably point to a time in your life that you've gotten through it. They've just gotta continue to do their work, continue to grind this out.

"It's going to turn, it's going to. I believe in them. I believe in Knebel, I believe in everybody in that room. We've been through a grueling 2½ weeks and we've been through some really tough losses. They'll respond."

As has often been the case this season, the Phillies couldn't play a complete game. On this afternoon, they pitched well for 8⅔ innings and played clean defensively but didn't hit. Sure, there are some promising signs like Nick Castellanos and Schwarber appearing to bust out of their slumps, but a team that entered Memorial Day 10½ games out in the NL East needs to start stacking wins and the Phils haven't been able to do that.

The Phillies hit three solo home runs off of Giants starter Logan Webb. Castellanos hit one in the second inning, Rhys Hoskins went deep in the fourth and Schwarber in the ninth. Webb was going for a complete game when Schwarber got to him. He still pitched very well overall with 10 strikeouts and didn't give the Phillies a single opportunity with a runner in scoring position.

Kyle Gibson started for the Phillies and avoided the barrel of the bat until Wilmer Flores' two-run homer in the sixth inning tied the game. Gibson entered the sixth at just 68 pitches but needed 27 to complete his final frame.

Gibson allowed two runs in his six innings on three hits, a walk and two hit batsmen. He had his slider working and induced a slew of jam-jobs and softly hit balls off the end of the bat.

Gibson has a 3.83 ERA. He has allowed two runs or fewer in seven of 10 starts this season and five of his last six. 

"This is probably the best team I've ever been on," Gibson said when asked why he's so sure things will turn. "I've been on teams that went to the playoffs and this is the best team I've ever been on. We have too many good players and too many good pitchers for it not to turn around. That's the basis of my belief and I think that's why everyone in here believes in each other, because when you look around the room, you have a lot of really good players and players who have done a lot in their careers.

"I know it's cliché and I know everybody's waiting, but it's just sometimes that's how baseball is. We haven't met expectations so far but this is a 162-game season."

The three-game series between the Phillies and Giants continues Tuesday at 6:45 p.m. Ranger Suarez (4-3, 4.74) looks to bounce back after consecutive high-stress, short outings. Right-hander Jakob Junis (2-1, 2.76) goes for San Francisco. 

Junis, who is coming off of a six-inning win over the Mets, has been extremely homer-prone throughout his six-year career with the fourth-highest home run rate (1.6 per nine innings) among active MLB starters. The Phillies desperately need a win Tuesday.

"Nobody likes giving up a lead and nobody likes losing late. It seems magnified," Gibson said. "But to lose late, you have to be in the game and play really well. We've done that for the most part against some really good teams. It just hasn't bounced our way.

"Where we see this team going is at some point we might be down 2-0 in a playoff series. What are you gonna do? Are you gonna sulk and say that you haven't met expectations for the series so you might as well give up? No, you're gonna go out and play the next game and try to make it 2-1. That's all we can do at this point, keep playing game by game and keep having confidence in each other."

Oh, what this team's fanbase would give to even watch a playoff series get to 2-0 ...

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