The Giants hand the Phillies a rare second straight loss as three errors prove costly

SAN FRANCISCO — After the ground ball hopped over his glove and into left field and the tying run scored, Alec Bohm put his hands on his hips and shook his head.

If body language could talk, Bohm’s would’ve yelled, “[Stuff] happens!”

Stuff does happen, especially over 162 games. Pitchers allow hits. Third basemen make errors. And sometimes, believe it or not, a team even loses back-to-back games.

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The Phillies hadn’t done the latter in five weeks. Not until Monday, when Taijuan Walker gave up a handful of hits on his best pitch, Bohm made two errors, and they fumbled away a comeback from a three-run deficit against the reigning Cy Young Award winner in an 8-4 loss to the Giants.

“We’re not naïve,” Bohm said after the Memorial Day matinee by San Francisco Bay. “We know you’re not just going to flow right through a season with no adversity, no struggle, and everybody’s just happy-go-lucky and you show up and win every day. That’s not how it works.”

Bohm’s first error, on a Thairo Estrada grounder that seemed to change direction, enabled the Giants to pull even at 4-4 against Walker, who began the inning by allowing an infield single and a double to LaMonte Wade Jr.

The Giants took the lead two batters later, when Patrick Bailey lifted a sacrifice fly to left field. They added a run in the sixth inning on an RBI double by Brett Wisely and two in the seventh in a rally keyed by Bohm’s other error.

But the Phillies went more than a month without losing consecutive games — and built a six-game lead in the NL East — because of stellar starting pitching. Against the Giants, Walker thought his stuff was better than the results. Neither proved to be good enough.

Manager Rob Thomson thought Walker’s signature splitter was better, with more depth. It was a low bar. Entering the game, opponents were 11-for-23 against the pitch. And the Giants jumped on it for five hits, including the doubles by Wade and Wisely.

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“Left a couple splitters up, but for the most part, it was pretty consistent down,” Walker said. “I thought it was the best it’s been so far.”

The Giants jumped on Walker’s splitter in the second inning to build a 3-0 lead. Mike Yastrzemski’s two-run double came on a first-pitch cutter. But Bailey banged a splitter for a single earlier in the inning, and Wisely lined an RBI single on a splitter.

Walker’s average fastball velocity ticked up slightly, but it remains down overall compared to previous seasons. Has the splitter been less effective with less separation in velocity from the fastball?

“It just depends on the movement of [the splitter],” Walker said. “If it’s late and sharp, like I thought it was today, it’s going to play really well with ground balls, swings and misses. If the movement’s not good and I leave it up, that’s when it gets hit hard. The two that I left up, they didn’t have that sharp break. The ones that were down were really good.”

Walker now has a 5.51 ERA in six starts. Last week, Thomson took him out with a three-run lead in the fifth inning and one out shy of qualifying for a victory because his command was spotty. This time, the manager left Walker in the game for the sixth inning with a one-run deficit.

“I was happy with the way he was throwing,” Thomson said. “I was happy with his pitch count.”

Said Walker: “It’s one of those things where, honestly, everything felt really good — my body, the way the ball was coming out. It’s the best I’ve felt all year. Obviously, nothing to show for it.”

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Bohm, the Phillies’ best player through two months of the season, had only two errors to show for his trouble. He has made four errors in his last six games after 16 error-free games, proof that defense goes into slumps, too.

“I’m not going to just go panic and take a bunch of extra ground balls for no reason,” Bohm said. “I missed a couple balls, I didn’t make a play. That’s just what it is. It’s a hard game. You play 162 games, there’s going to be days where you just straight-up [stink]. Nobody’s immune to it.“

Last season, a three-run deficit against Blake Snell would have been game, set, and match. But he hasn’t found a rhythm with the Giants.

Snell’s free agency dragged into the middle of March, when he finally signed a two-year, $62 million contract. He missed one month after straining an adductor muscle near his left hip on April 24. Through four starts, he didn’t complete five innings or throw more than 87 pitches.

So, the Phillies stuck to their approach and ran up Snell’s pitch count. They chipped away at the Giants’ lead, too, beginning with Kyle Schwarber’s towering two-run homer to right field in the third inning, his first homer since May 6, also against the Giants.

Edmundo Sosa continued his uncanny Trea Turner impression with a one-out triple in the fourth inning, then scored the tying run on a wild pitch. Whit Merrifield reached on a rare error by Giants third baseman Matt Chapman, stole second, and scored the go-ahead run on Johan Rojas’ single.

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But a funny thing happened once the Phillies grabbed the lead. Their starting pitcher couldn’t hold it. And it led to their first back-to-back losses in more than a month.

Hey, it happens.

“It’s a long season,” Walker said. “We’ve played really good baseball. But we know we have a good team. We know we can score. We’ve got Zack [Wheeler] going tomorrow, ace. I know he’ll go out there and do well for us and get back on a winning streak again.”


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