Embattled closer Ian Kennedy gives up two homers in the ninth inning to send Phillies to a 4-3 loss to Rockies
PHILADELPHIA — Ian Kennedy turned his head, looked skyward, and put his hands on his knees. One strike from nailing down another precious late-season Phillies victory, the veteran closer gave it away.
Kennedy tried to sneak a curveball past pinch-hitting Colorado Rockies infielder Ryan McMahon. Instead, he hung the breaking pitch. McMahon lined it into the right-field bleachers for a two-run homer that erased a one-run Phillies lead. Kennedy then gave up a towering shot to Sam Hilliard that sent the Phillies to an eventual 4-3 loss Thursday night at Citizens Bank Park.
It marked Kennedy’s second blown save in eight chances since the Phillies picked him up in a deadline trade with the Texas Rangers. It also wasted another homer from Bryce Harper, a.k.a., the hottest hitter on the planet. And it prevented the Phillies from picking up ground on the division-leading Atlanta Braves, who were losing late at home against the Washington Nationals.
“It hurts,” manager Joe Girardi said. “A lot.”
Kennedy gave up five homers in 32⅓ innings with Texas. He has allowed six in 13⅔ innings with the Phillies. Hilliard’s homer, a 434-footer into the second deck in right field, provided the winning margin after the Phillies got one run back in the bottom of the ninth.
The Phillies lead the majors with 30 blown saves, a single-season team record. The bullpen has allowed 78 homers, fifth-most in the majors.
Every loss is costly in a playoff race in September. But falling at home to the Rockies, who are 19-50 on the road this season, stings even more. The Phillies play 13 of their next 17 games at home, all against noncontending teams.