Right-hander Zach Eflin returned to the rotation and could not hold a 3-0 lead. He twice was one strike away from getting out of the fourth inning, but allowed a pair of hits after being up 0-2 in the count and that led to three San Diego runs, and the Padres pulled ahead with a couple of runs against ineffective Nick Pivetta in the fifth.
The Phillies took a 2-0 lead in the second on doubles by Jean Segura and Scott Kingery and a single by Eflin. Smokin' hot J.T. Realmuto homered in the third. But the Phils did not score after that as San Diego right-hander Dinelson Lamet delivered six innings of three-run ball.
The loss dropped the Phillies to a game out of the second wild-card spot in the National League. The Phils are 64-59.
Eflin was the Phillies' most consistent starter over the first two months of the season and their least consistent in July. That led to his being moved to the bullpen for three weeks.
Jake Arrieta's season-ending elbow injury forced the Phillies to put Eflin back in the rotation and he did not fare all that well in his first start since July 27.
Eflin pitched scoreless ball for the first three innings and enjoyed a 3-0 lead but could not get out of the fourth inning and allowed three runs.
Trouble putting hitters away
All of the Padres' runs in the third inning came with two outs. Eflin had Lamet, the opposing pitcher, down 0-2 in the count and could not put him away. Lamet kept the inning alive with a full-count single on a four-seam fastball. Eflin then had Manuel Margot, 0-2, and gave up an RBI single. He then gave up a two-run double to Josh Naylor on a 2-2 four-seamer. Eflin had been ahead in that count, 1-2, but could not put Naylor away.
Second time not a charm
It was not surprising to see Eflin open with three scoreless frames. Entering the game, he'd held opposing hitters to a .213 batting average the first time through the order. Opponents had been hitting .363 the second time through. Clearly, opposing hitters are getting better looks at Eflin as the game goes on. Eflin has not pitched more than four innings in four of his last five starts. He hit a wall in the fourth inning on July 20 in Pittsburgh and left that game after four innings with "heavy legs." Eflin is going to have to figure out a way to build more endurance over the winter. In the meantime, he needs to pitch deeper into games the remainder of this season because the Phils are thin on starting pitching and innings in their rotation and he has too much talent to be such a middling starter.
Eflin threw 73 pitches, including 27 sinkers. That 37 percent mark was his highest of the season. He'd really de-emphasized the pitch recently, but featured it often in this one and had some success with it in the first three innings.
Eflin allowed seven hits in 3 2/3 innings only got one swing and miss in 73 pitches.
Offense slows down
After 35 hits and 26 runs in the previous three games, all with Charlie Manuel in the dugout as hitting coach, the Phils were held to just six hits.
Rhys Hoskins returned to the starting lineup -- he did not start Friday because of a sore hand – and went 0 for 3. He is 6 for 57 (.105) in his last 17 games.
Bryce Harper proved human by going 0 for 4 with two strikeouts.
Realmuto stayed hot. He has eight homers and 21 RBIs in his last 22 games.
The two teams meet again in the series finale Sunday afternoon. Jason Vargas (6-6, 4.03) opposes Joey Lucchesi (7-7, 4.25) in a matchup of lefties.
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