By Sam Bush

“It’s one of the worst losses I’ve ever been associated with, the way we lost,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said after last night’s 6-5 Dodgers win in which reliever Hector Neris gave up three straight homers. “Those weren’t wind-blown home runs. They were bombs. It’s tough to take.”

Four Phillies pitchers have blown four leads in the ninth inning this season. They lost two of those games. The Phillies also have an 8.83 ERA in the ninth. They opened the season with Jeanmar Gomez closing, but he quickly lost the job. They tried Joaquin Benoit in the role, but he did not last long.

Neris is the latest pitcher to struggle in the ninth. He has allowed a run in four of his six appearances since he picked up his first save April 20.

“Bad day,” Neris said “Everyone has one.”

“It was the location,” Neris said “It wasn’t because they were fastballs.”

“I’d like to have [Eric] Gagne,” Mackanin said, referring to the 2003 National League Cy Young Award winner. “I’d like to have a lights-out closer, but we don’t have one right now. We’ll continue to look at it. I think Neris is capable of being a closer, but for some reason he’s just not throwing his split as often as he did and that’s his out pitch, the pitch that makes him who he is, who he was.”

Neris tried to remain upbeat after the game.

“I’m here,” he said. “My head is never down.”

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