MIAMI - Larry Bowa stood on the top step of the dugout in the eighth inning. He pointed at Reid Brignac, and then the 68-year-old bench coach mimicked a pitching motion. Brignac, the shortstop, pounded his fist in his glove.
A 14-5 Phillies loss to the Marlins devolved Wednesday night to this moment. Brignac was next to pitch if Luis Garcia, appearing for the first time in two weeks, could not survive a gruesome inning. Garcia fanned Christian Yelich with his 49th pitch, and there was mercy.
Silence followed in the visiting clubhouse at Marlins Park. Manager Ryne Sandberg lamented a game-changing catch by Marlins rightfielder Giancarlo Stanton. He criticized starter Kyle Kendrick for a repeat of his first-inning issues. Kendrick, who has not won since last August, minced no words.
"The guys put up two runs for me and I go out and [expletive] do that [expletive]. It's just bad," Kendrick said. "It needs to stop."
This is a contract year for Kendrick, who craves respect and could earn it this winter with a sizable deal through free agency. But nights like Wednesday demonstrate Kendrick's current mediocre state.
The game at times halted to a lethargic pace. "Throw the ball!" a loud Miami fan yelled at Kendrick. When he did, the Marlins struck. Kendrick permitted a season-high six runs in 52/3 innings. His ERA jumped to 4.53.
The Phillies are 3-6 in games started by Kendrick this season. He has lost his last 10 decisions since Aug. 11, 2013. That is the longest such streak for a Phillies starter since the incorrigible Matt Beech dropped 11 straight in 1996 and '97. Kendrick has a 5.11 ERA in a 16-start stretch since his last win.
Once Kendrick departed, the bullpen laid waste to another long night. Mario Hollands allowed his inherited runner to score. Marcell Ozuna sank Jeff Manship with a grand slam that activated the psychedelic home run sculpture in center at Marlins Park. Garcia walked four and allowed four runs.
Kendrick's destruction assumed various forms. The Phillies supported him with runs in the first and fourth innings. Each time, he promptly allowed Miami to score in the bottom half. He grounded into two double plays and twice ended a potential threat with Jimmy Rollins, the team's hottest hitter, standing in the on-deck circle.
The most flagrant mistake happened in the fourth inning. Marlon Byrd and Cody Asche started the inning with consecutive singles. Tony Gwynn Jr. scored Byrd with a single to tie the score at 3. Kendrick batted with runners on the corners. He squared to bunt Nathan Eovaldi's first pitch, only to swing. He fouled it into the seats.
Kendrick again feigned bunt on the next pitch, a 95-m.p.h. fastball. He slapped one back at Eovaldi, who initiated a 1-6-3 double play.
"With men on first and third," Sandberg said, "we are looking for some contact - preferably a sac fly."
That was an unconventional explanation. Kendrick last hit a sacrifice fly in 2007 as a 22-year-old rookie.
"I'm not a hitter," Kendrick said. "It's frustrating, but my job is to get outs."
Rollins batted just once with a runner on base. He collected two more hits and tied Richie Ashburn for second place in franchise history with 2,217 hits.
Yet again, a clean first inning proved elusive for Kendrick. The Marlins scored twice. Kendrick has allowed nine first-inning runs in his last four starts. This marked the ninth time in 10 games the Phillies have surrendered a first-inning run.
"We've talked about it after his last one," Sandberg said. "We talked about being aggressive down in the zone."
"It seems like every first inning I'm giving up some runs," Kendrick said. "I don't understand it."
The Phillies have played from behind, which renders consistent winning difficult. Sandberg, by the end, waved the white flag when he emptied his bench. There was nothing else to do. First pitch Thursday is 12:40 p.m.
BY THE NUMBERS
Challenges won by the Phillies this season on 10 video reviews.
9 of 10
The Phillies have allowed first-inning runs in 9 of the last 10 games.
Kyle Kendrick's ERA this season.EndText