TORONTO (AP) — The Philadelphia Phillies insist they haven’t lost confidence as they stumble through their worst stretch of the season so far
Aledmys Diaz hit a go-ahead three-run double in the eighth inning and the Toronto Blue Jays rallied to beat Philadelphia 8-6 on Saturday, handing the slumping Phillies their sixth loss in seven games.
The Phillies have lost 12 of 18 since a five-game winning streak that ended Aug. 5.
“We’ve had stretches similar to this one,” Philadelphia manager Gabe Kapler said. “This one has been undoubtedly difficult but we remind our guys how tough we are and how resilient we are and that good teams have rough stretches. By no means does this mean we don’t have the ability to win the National League East.”
Philadelphia led 6-5 to begin the inning but Seranthony Dominguez (1-5) loaded the bases by giving up a hit, a walk, and hitting a batter. Victor Arano came on and struck out Teoscar Hernandez for the second out before Diaz cleared the bases with a double over the head of center fielder Odubel Herrera.
The Phillies, who have lost four of five to Toronto this season, began the day three games behind Atlanta in the NL East and two games out in the wild-card race.
“What separates good teams is the way that they come out of these stretches and they really light a fire underneath them,” right-hander Nick Pivetta said. “It’s the way we’re going to respond to this little stretch here that is really going to show.”
Speaking through a translator, catcher Jorge Alfaro said the Phillies still feel good about in their chances of a September playoff push.
“The season is tough but we know we can be better than this, we know we’re going to get out of this slump,” Alfaro said.
Toronto won its fifth straight, its longest streak since May 21 to 27, 2017.
Blue Jays designated hitter Kendrys Morales homered for the sixth consecutive game, matching Jose Cruz Jr. (2001) for the franchise record. Morales hit a two-run shot off Pivetta in the fourth, his team-leading 20th. Morales, who has hit seven home runs in his streak, matched St. Louis first baseman Matt Carpenter for the longest streak in the majors this season.
Billy McKinney added a two-run homer in the seventh for the Blue Jays, his second in two games. Both home runs came off Pivetta, who allowed five runs and seven hits in 6 2/3 innings.
Kapler was asked why he left Pivetta in to face McKinney a fourth time, rather than bringing in left-hander Luis Avilan, who was acquired from the White Sox on Wednesday.
Kapler said he suspected Blue Jays manager John Gibbons would have responded by replacing McKinney with Randal Grichuk. Pivetta had struck McKinney out twice, and had also struck out two straight after giving up a leadoff double
“Despite the leadoff double,w e had a lot of confidence in him,” Kapler said of Pivetta. “We felt like he could go get that hitter.”
Joe Biagini (2-7) worked one inning for the win and Ken Giles finished for his 18th save in 18 opportunities.
Rhys Hoskins had three RBIs and Roman Quinn had two hits and two RBIs for the Phillies.
Making his first start since after missing more than two months because of a sore index finger on his pitching hand, Toronto right-hander Aaron Sanchez allowed six runs and a season-worst 10 hits in four-plus innings, but said the injury didn’t hamper him.
“It’s good to be back, and I want to have good starts,” Sanchez said. “Going out there and feeling nothing after is obviously a plus.”
The Phillies are 58-8 when they lead through seven innings.
HAD THEIR PHIL
Philadelphia has lost 17 of the past 21 meetings with Toronto, including six straight north of the border.
Phillies: C Wilson Ramos got the day off. Ramos returned to the lineup Friday after missing three games because of a sore left wrist. Kapler said Ramos would start again Sunday.
Blue Jays: To make room for Sanchez, Toronto designated Jaime Garcia for assignment. … Gibbons said SS Troy Tulowitzki (bone spurs in both heels) will not play at all this season. Tulowitzki had surgery on both feet at the start of the regular season. The five-time All-Star has not played since July 2017, when he seriousl;y injured his right ankle in a collision at first base.
Phillies RHP Vince Velasquez (8-9, 4.06) faces Blue Jays RHP Marco Estrada (7-9, 4.88) in Sunday’s series finale. Velasquez is 0-1 with a 6.97 ERA over his past three starts. Estrada is 3-1 with 4.81 ERA in four August outings.
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/tag/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports