By Sam Bush

Ah, yes, 1997.

A terrible year for the Phillies, and last night’s 4-3 loss to the Pirates at Citizens Bank Park summoned up memories because:

The Phils. who were tied with Milwaukee for the major’s worst winning percentage, has dropped 10 of 13 to fall to 11-22 (.333). It’s the worst start for the Phillies since 1997, when they opened the season by losing 20 of 29 games.

Gerrit Cole (5-1) allowed two runs and six hits, struck out six and walked two, shaking off his first loss in 10 starts with another good outing. The right-hander had won four straight before Wednesday’s 3-0 home loss to Cincinnati.

Making his first start at hitter-friendly Citizens Bank Park, Cole (photo above) improved 5-0 with a 2.36 ERA in his last seven road outings. The Pirates opened a seven-game trip with their fourth win in five games overall and seventh in their last eight against the Phillies dating to last season.

Gregory Polanco and Chris Stewart had two hits apiece for Pittsburgh, and Polanco also scored two runs.

Odubel Herrera broke out of a skid with his first major league homer in the ninth off Pirates closer Mark Melancon, who held on for his eighth save in nine opportunities. Grady Sizemore had a pair of RBI singles for the Phillies.

Jerome Williams (2-3) lasted just five innings, giving up three runs and four hits. He struck out four and walked two.

The Pirates did most of their damage in the third inning. Williams walked Polanco and Andrew McCutchen, and Marte launched his eighth homer of the season into the seats in left-center to give Pittsburgh a 3-1 lead. Marte is 14 for 34 (.412) with five doubles and two homers in eight games in Philly.

The Phils got a run back in the sixth on Sizemore’s second RBI single. But McCutchen’s sacrifice fly in the seventh made it 4-2.

The Pirates improved to 9-2 in their last 11 games in Philly.

Herrera returned to the lineup after manager Ryne Sandberg rested the rookie center fielder on Sunday. Prior to the homer, he went 0 for 3 with three strikeouts in his first three at-bats to fall to 2 for 23 (.087) with 14 strikeouts in his last six games.

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