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Late rally falls short in Bucs’ 8-7 loss to Phillies

Misplayed fly ball in first by Madris proves fatal as Pirates drop series opener

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Phillies used a strong start from Zack Wheeler and a misplayed ball in right field to build an 8-2 lead, then held on for dear life in the ninth to post an 8-7 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates Thursday night in the first game of a four-game series at PNC Park.

The Pirates, who with the exception of Cal Mitchell had been in an offensive stupor all night, awoke in the ninth to push across five runs and brought the tying run to the plate. But after Phillies reliever Seranthony Dominguez retired Oneil Cruz on an RBI groundout, he got Ke’Bryan Hayes to fly out to right for the final out.

The Phillies, battling for a National League wildcard spot, struck for three runs in the first inning off Zach Thompson, who wound up giving up seven runs and 11 hits before departing with two outs in the sixth inning.

It was Thompson’s second straight start in which he yielded seven earned runs; he did so Saturday in 5 1/3 innings against the Miami Marlins.

Thompson yielded back-to-back singles with one out in the first and then his defense let him down. Darick Hall drove a ball to right-center that Bligh Madris appeared to have measured, but Madris could not make the grab and Hall wound up at third with a two-run triple.

Nick Castellanos followed with an RBI single to make it 3-0, and that was all Wheeler needed.

Madris was recalled from Indianapolis earlier in the day when the Pirates placed Bryan Reynolds on the paternity list. Madris, an outfielder by trade, hadn’t played the outfield since July 15. He had made his last six appearances for Indianapolis at first base.

The Pirates managed just two hits off Wheeler in the first five innings, and the Phillies added some insurance in the sixth when Kyle Schwarber smacked his 32nd homer of the season, a three-run shot that KO’d Thompson.

After yielding a leadoff single to Kevin Newman leading off the bottom of the first, Wheeler held the Pirates in check until the seventh when Mitchell launched a two-run homer – his third round-tripper of the season — with two outs, making it 8-2.

Mitchell finished with three of the Pirates’ seven hits. Tyler Heineman added a two-run single in the ninth and Kevin Newman added a two-run triple to cut the lead to 8-6.

Jose Quintana, one of the prime trade candidates in the NL as Tuesday’s trade deadline approaches, will make what is likely to be his final start for the Pirates Friday night against the Phillies’ Bailey Falter.