By Sam Bush
This road trip has become the Phillies’ trip into oblivion!
Max Kepler made up for his error with a tying single in the fifth inning and the go-ahead sacrifice fly in the seventh as the Minnesota Twins handed the Phillies their ninth straight loss, 6-5.
The Phillies took a 5-2 lead in the fifth as Andres Blanco singled to right and the ball skipped under Kepler’s glove, allowing two runs to score. Ryan Howard followed with an RBI single.
That’s when Bryan Buxton sought out Kepler to try and pick him up.
“Me and Kep are pretty close. If I made a mistake, he’d do the same for me,” Buxton said. “We all got that pretty good connection here.”
In the bottom of the inning, Eduardo Escobar lined a two-run triple that Phillies right fielder Peter Bourjos misjudged. Kepler followed with his tying single.
Kepler’s fly ball to left off reliever David Hernandez (1-2) in the seventh drove inTrevor Plouffe with the tiebreaking run.
“I told him he was going to come up in a big situation and he did,” Buxton said. “And he came through.”
Taylor Rodgers (3-0) worked a scoreless seventh and Fernando Abad got the last four outs for his first major league save.
“Fernando’s pitched in a lot of games and he’s pitched well,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “He got the last four outs and he got them cleanly.”
Cameron Rupp and Blanco homered for the Phillies, who have lost 13 of 14 and are 4-17 in June.
“The only thing I can say is it’s good to see the offense show some signs of life,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. “That’s about the only good thing I’ve got to say today. Other than that, I don’t know what to tell you.”
A wild pickoff attempt by Philadelphia starter Adam Morgan allowed the speedy Buxton to advance to second base and score on Eduardo Nunez’s single in the second inning to give Minnesota a 2-1 lead.
The defensive miscues and sloppy play from two of the worst teams in baseball came after rain delayed the start of the game by 70 minutes.
But once the Twins regained the lead, their defense picked up.
Kepler made a diving catch to take a hit away from Rupp in the eighth. Pinch-hitter Tyler Goeddel came up next and drove a ball deep to center, only to see Buxton make the catch after leaping, crashing hard into the wall, and crumpling to the ground.
“I knew I was going to hit the wall pretty hard,” Buxton said. “I just wanted to hang onto the ball and get us out of the inning.”
Kepler helped his teammate back up and both were smiling while trotting back to the dugout.