By Sam Bush
The good news for the Phillies Sunday is that the half of the season before tomorrow’s All-Star Game is over.
The bad news is that the schedule for the by-far-worst team in the major leagues picks right back up Friday against the Marlins.
No team in baseball needs a break more than them.
The Giants’ Andrew Susac’s three-run homer highlighted a four-run fourth inning against Chad Billingsley, handing the last-place Phillies a 4-2 loss to complete a three-game sweep.
The Phils (29-62) set the franchise record for the most losses before the All-Star break, surpassing the previous mark of 61 in 1997.
“One good thing is we have that four-day break. We can go home, relax, take the pressure off,” interim manager Pete Mackanin said. “Pitching and defense are the main things. Our defense is OK, but our pitching needs work.”
Billingsley gave up 10 hits in five-plus innings. Ryan Howard hit two catchable balls that dropped in the outfield to drive in Phillies runs, including one in the ninth.
But the Phillies never really challenged the reigning World Series champions.
The loss capped a forgettable first half for the Phillies, who have dropped five in a row. Ryne Sandberg resigned as manager June 26, and Mackanin has failed to stop the slide so far.
“It’s been difficult. But we still have to go out and play hard, try to learn and hope things get better,” said shortstop Freddy Galvis, who went 0 for 3.
San Francisco (46-43) is suddenly looking like a contender again — though playing the Phillies helps.
Chris Heston (9-5) allowed one run and seven hits in 6 2-3 innings. He struck out seven and walked none to help send the Giants into the break on a high note.
“We’re not where we want to be, obviously, but you just want to hang in there. You’re a nice win streak away from being where you want to be,” manager Bruce Bochy said.
The Giants got going by turning three double plays in the first four innings, with Buster Posey starting two of them.
The All-Star catcher, playing first base to get a rest from his regular duties, snagged a bunt by Billingsley in the third and a hard-hit grounder by Maikel Franco in the fourth before smoothly throwing to second each time.
Susac, who started in Posey’s place at catcher, also threw out Cesar Hernandez trying to steal second in the first inning. But his biggest contribution came at the plate — not behind it.
After Brandon Crawford’s RBI single, Susac hit a three-run drive onto the netting that covers the kale garden over the wall in center. It was Susac’s third home run this season.
Santiago Casilla gave up a run in the ninth before getting his 23rd save in 27 chances.