The Philadelphia Phillies squandered a huge opportunity to put further pressure on the Atlanta Braves for the top spot in the National League East on Sunday, dropping their series finale to the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates 6-0.
The result dropped the Phillies 2.0 games back of the Braves in the division prior to Atlanta’s game Sunday evening in San Diego against the Padres. Winning the division looks as though it’s the Phillies’ best chance to make the playoffs as the red-hot St. Louis Cardinals continue strengthening their grip on the final National League Wild Card spot.
Philadelphia could not muster an iota of offense against the fivesome of Pirates pitchers that limited them to just six hits in the shutout loss.
Meanwhile, the very first pitch of the afternoon proved to be the game-winner, as Cole Tucker hit his first career home run just inside the right-field foul pole off Phillies starter Hans Crouse, who was making his MLB debut on Sunday afternoon.
Crouse would go just three innings, allowing that one run on two hits while walking four and striking out one. But that home run would be the only contribution to the scoreboard for the first six innings as the Pirates and Phillies proceeded to trade zeroes.
A combination of Jorge Alvarado and Adonis Medina spelled the end of the Phillies on Sunday as the relievers allowed the Pirates to blow the door open.
Ke’Bryan Hayes doubled in a pair of runs with the bases loaded in the seventh to put the Pirates up 3-0. Colin Moran tried to score from first but was tagged out at home to limit the damage. It didn’t do much though as Yoshi Tsutsugo singled in a pair in the eighth to put Pittsburgh ahead by five.
An afternoon of dysfunction was capped off by a balk from Ramon Rosso that allowed Hayes to stroll in from third base.