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Phillies lose at home for 1st time in 24 days, split series with Blue Jays

The Phillies' winning streak at home was snapped at 11 games with a 5-3 loss to the Blue Jays.

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It wasn’t the type of ballgame which, years from now, those in attendance will be telling their grandkids about as they bounce them on their knee. It was, in fact, bland and soporific and meandered lazily through three hours of a summery afternoon.

Still, those among the gathering of 34,681 at Citizens Bank Park did witness something unusual. They saw the Phillies lose, 5-3, at home. It had been 24 days since that last happened. When they fell to the Pirates on April 14, the Phils were a .500 club still talking about the importance of getting off to a fast start.

Now, even with their home winning streak stopped at 11, tied for seventh-best in franchise history, they still have the best record in baseball at 26-12. And even with their overall streak halted at seven, they’ve tied or won each of their last 10 series. They haven’t done that since 1995.

So while the postgame mood was somber as the traveling party readied for its charter flight to Miami and a weekend series against the last-place Marlins, it wasn’t funereal.

“We were one swing away,” said designated hitter Kyle Schwarber, referring to the fact that the game ended with Phillies runners on second and third. “We’ve been playing some really good baseball. There are going to be times when you get beat. Straight up. That’s the beauty of this game, right? Obviously, we wish we’d gone out and executed a little bit more on the offensive side, especially against (Toronto starter Chris) Bassitt. But sometimes you have to tip your cap.

“A loss is a loss. We got beat.”

Phillies starter Aaron Nola allowed just one run through his first five innings, but didn’t survive the sixth.

With the score tied at one, his undoing started with an infield single by first baseman Valdimir Guerrero Jr., who was erased when Justin Turner grounded into a force play. Then the Jays strung together a double by catcher Danny Jansen and singles by shortstop Bo Bichette and second baseman Davis Schneider to take a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

Matt Strahm came out of the bullpen to get the final out, ending Nola’s outing at 5 2/2 innings. He gave up nine hits and threw 96 pitches.

One of Nola’s virtues as a starter is that he usually fills innings while keeping his team in games. That sort of dependability and durability played a big part in the Phillies decision to give him a 7-year, $172 million contract when he became a free agent last offseason. But in his previous start he needed 89 pitches to get through his four innings.

Against the Blue Jays, Guerrero and Turner didn’t make hard contact; in fact, if Turner had struck the ball better it could have resulted in a double play. “Then I made a couple mistakes,” Nola said. “Jansen hit that ball hard down the (first base) line and Bichette hit that ball pretty hard right over (first baseman Bryce Harper) and then I missed a couple spots.”

Nola pointed at an inability to locate his fastball down in the zone as his biggest problem. “I was just battling out there,” he said. “Obviously, I’m trying to get the ball down. That’s what got me to this point.”

On another day, Nola and the Phillies still could have walked away with a win. But an offense that had been averaging almost seven runs per game came up short against Bassitt, who entered the game with a 2-5 record and a 5.45 earned run average.

“He was keeping us off balance,” said Rob Thomson. “Got to give him credit. He pitched well.”

The Phillies were pretty sure they weren’t going to go undefeated the rest of the season, so there’s no need to belabor one unsightly loss. The manager reflected how much different things look than the last time he sat at that podium and discussed a defeat.

“We’ve really played well,” he said. “We’ve played well on the road, too. This was one of those days, but I’m really happy where the club’s at right now.”

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