Vince Velasquez didn't have his best stuff, the Philadelphia Phillies lost another player to injury and the Pittsburgh Pirates got a big hit from the unlikeliest of sources.
The woes continued for the Phillies at PNC Park on Sunday, with Philadelphia losing to Pittsburgh 5-4, dropping their three-game series two games to one.
The Phillies have now lost three consecutive series in Pittsburgh with just one win in that span. Since PNC Park opened in 2001, they are 16-31 at the home of their in-state rival.
Diminutive Pirates' rookie utilityman Adam Frazier hit a pinch-hit home run off reliever Edubray Ramos in the seventh inning to complete Pittsburgh's come-from-behind victory. It was Frazier's first major league home run and first time going deep since Sept. 5, when he was with Double-A Altoona.
But even before Frazier's improbable heroics, things weren't going well for the Phillies. Usually reliable starter Velasquez gave up four runs while taking 107 pitches to get through six innings.
"Just looking at his body language, he showed that he was struggling to find the strike zone," manager Pete Mackanin said. "He didn't have his best location. He did a good job; he just made a couple bad pitches when they scored the two runs. Obviously, he wasn't at his best, but he kept us in the game."
In the sixth inning, Velasquez gave up a double to Starling Marte on a 0-2 pitch that quickly sent things off the rails. It was followed by a first-pitch, two-run home run by Matt Joyce that tied the game.
"That's just a matter of finishing at-bats," Velasquez said. "You've got to lock in on 0-2 counts when you're ahead. You've got to finish the at-bat. Knowing that that was my last inning, that's where you have to bear down and give it all you've got."
The Pirates also scored a pair in the second inning. Marte led with a single and Elias Diaz drove him in with a groundout to record his first career RBI. Sean Rodriguez then drove in Joyce with a double to center.
Philadelphia's early offense came on a pair of solo home runs from Odubel Herrera and Andres Blanco that -- along with a two-run third inning -- helped the Phillies build a 4-2 lead. In the third, Velasquez singled off his mound opponent, Jameson Taillon, and Cesar Hernandez drove him in with a triple off the wall in center field. Hernandez then came around to score on Herrera's groundout.
"Cesar came through for us," Mackanin said of the three-hit afternoon by his second baseman. "The home run by Herrera was nice to see. We just need to score more runs."
Frazier's home run made a winner of reliever Neftali Feliz (4-0). Mark Melancon earned his 30th save. The game was delayed an hour and 32 minutes by a thunderstorm in the bottom of the eighth inning.
In a series that had already seen Maikel Franco and Cameron Rupp miss time after being hit by pitches, Blanco was injured on a seemingly routine play in the fifth inning. With Gregory Polanco attempting to steal third, Blanco took the throw from catcher Carlos Ruiz and put the tag down, only to have Polanco land on his glove as he slid. Blanco has a fractured left index finger that required four stitches.
"That's going to hurt us," Mackanin said. "We always could rely on him to play solid defense, come up with big hits. Anywhere we put him, he plays solid defense. He's just a great guy to have around."
Phillies: Franco replaced Blanco at third base. It was his first action since being removed from Friday's game after being hit by a pitch in his wrist. He went 1 for 2 at the plate. ... C Rupp did not play as a precaution after being hit in the head with a pitch Saturday. Concussion tests done Saturday night and before the game Sunday were negative.
Pirates: RHP Tyler Glasnow was placed on the 15-day disabled list before the game with shoulder discomfort.
Phillies: Jeremy Hellickson (7-7, 3.84 ERA) will start a three-game set in Miami. In his last seven starts, he's walked just seven batters and has a 0.98 WHIP while lowering his ERA by half a run. The Phillies enter the series 9 1/2 games behind the Marlins for the final NL Wild Card spot.
Pirates: Francisco Liriano (6-9, 4.96 ERA) will begin a two-game series against the Seattle Mariners after an off day Monday. The Pirates have rearranged their starting rotation to keep Liriano and Gerrit Cole on as close to five days of rest as possible during a stretch where they have four days off in a three-week span.