PHOENIX - John Mayberry Jr. did not enter Friday's game until the eighth inning, when Ryne Sandberg summoned him as a pinch-runner for Ryan Howard. He was the potential tying run at first base. Marlon Byrd laced a Brad Ziegler sinker to left, and Sandberg later wondered if a 5-4 Phillies loss was sealed at that moment.
Tony Campana, a diminutive outfielder blessed with speed but not arm strength, intercepted the ball before it reached the warning track. Mayberry bounded around second but stopped there.
"For me," Sandberg said, "that's still a first-to-third play."
"I think it would have been a smart gamble," Mayberry admitted. "The play was in front of me. When he cut it off and got it back in, I shut it down."
The next two Phillies grounded out to first. The Diamondbacks added a run when Jake Diekman hung another slider in the bottom half of the first. And, naturally, the game again fell into Mayberry's lap in the ninth when he batted with the tying run at second base. It ended with a strikeout looking.
"We're trying to get runs in the eighth," Sandberg said. "We've got to score. I put a runner in there to try to tie the game in the eighth on a double or a first-to-third type of play."
Byrd said when he hit first base, he was thinking double. But Mayberry never went for third.
"If he took off," Byrd said, "I was going to keep going."
The Diamondbacks, baseball's worst team, last won at Chase Field on April 1. This was a chance for the Phillies to transform a decent trip into a great one. Instead, Arizona resembled a competent baseball roster. The defeat, a most frustrating one, dropped the Phillies to 4-4 on this 10-game West Coast swing. They must atone this weekend.
Josh Collmenter became the first Diamondbacks starter this season with a scoreless outing. His first two starts produced seven runs in 10 innings. He was dominant Friday in six innings; the Phillies did not advance a runner past second base.
Arizona entered the weekend with baseball's worst record (7-18) and were outscored by a staggering 57 runs in their first 25 games. Their starting rotation's 6.78 ERA was the worst in baseball and well behind the next closest National League staff (Washington at 4.40). They scored 3.72 runs per game, 25th in baseball. In summary, everything that could go wrong did in those first 25 games.
The Phillies maintained a chance to win even after their fifth starter, Roberto Hernandez, plodded through six innings. Their best chances to tie came late.
The seventh-inning rally unfolded in slow motion. Byrd and Domonic Brown notched singles against lefty Joe Thatcher. Hard-throwing righthander Randall Delgado relieved him and loaded the bases on a Carlos Ruiz single.
Cody Asche, who ignited the monumental ninth-inning onslaught Thursday, saw eight Delgado pitches. He took four close ones, each just outside, and drew a run-scoring walk. Tony Gwynn Jr. scorched one to shortstop __ a probable double-play ball __ that ricocheted off Cliff Pennington's glove for two runs.
Sandberg thought Asche should have advanced to third. He stopped past second, attempted to scramble back, and was called out. A 2 minute, 18 second review overturned it, and Asche remained at second. But he never scored because Ben Revere grounded out and Jimmy Rollins flied out.
"That was another opportunity for a runner on third base with less than two outs," Sandberg said. "Those two plays there were potential runs we didn't have a chance to get in. They came back to bite us."
Collmenter, in a rarity, was better than his counterpart. Hernandez's ERA is 5.81, and he has failed to pitch more than six innings in any of his five starts. He was signed for $4.5 million. The Phillies hoped he could bring league-average numbers to the fifth slot in the rotation. That has not yet happened.
Rollins pushed the Phillies to within one with a run-scoring single in the ninth. He stole second base, which permitted Arizona manager Kirk Gibson to choose his fate. He ordered closer Addison Reed to intentionally walk Chase Utley. Gibson wanted Mayberry at the plate, and the ninth-inning Phillies magic fell short this time.