Juan Samuel stood still near third base on Wednesday night with his hands on his hips and his face masked in disbelief.
Did that really just happen?
Odubel Herrera ran through Samuel's stop sign in the ninth inning of a 7-6 loss to St. Louis in 10 innings at Citizens Bank Park. Herrera was thrown out at home by about five feet. He took such a wide turn around third base that Herrera actually ran behind Samuel and the third base coach's outstretched hands. Samuel was dismayed and Herrera was quickly yanked from the game. The Phillies' night would only get worse.
Samuel said he never had a runner ignore a stop sign. Herrera said he saw it late because he was sprinting with his head down after Freddy Galvis slapped a ball down the left-field line.
"If I put the brakes on, you've got to stop," Samuel said.
"I think his emotions got the best of him," manager Pete Mackanin said. "He just put his head down - which is a mistake. But he's an emotional guy and he wanted to win the game. We got a bad kick on that ball. If that ball goes down into the corner, it's a moot point. I'm not happy with those types of mistakes, but it's not like we make them every night."
"I was playing aggressive," Herrera said. "I wanted to win the game. So when I was rounding third, I put my head down. I kept going to home plate."
The Phillies' 39th loss in their last 50 games was sealed by yet another bullpen meltdown. Edubray Ramos gave up two runs in the 10th and was pulled after retiring just one batter. He balked a runner to third and that runner, Jose Martinez, then scored when Ramos misfired to first on a pickoff attempt. It was another embarrassing night in a season that continues to get uglier.
Ramos has retired just two of the last eight batters he has faced. He has allowed seven runs over that three-game span on three hits and three walks. The righthander, who showed promise early in the season, could be ticketed for triple A.
"I don't know what to tell you. It looks like he's mixed up or something," Mackanin said. "He's not the same guy."
The loss spoiled another impressive night from Nick Pivetta, who struck out 10 and walked just one. Pivetta allowed three runs in six innings and pitched with confidence. He attacked the St. Louis lineup, challenging the Cardinals with fastball after fastball.
Pivetta is just the eighth pitcher in team history to rack up double-digit strikeouts in one of his first eight major-league starts. He did so by riding his 94-mph fastball, which he threw as the first pitch to 18 of the 23 batters he faced. Pivetta has allowed just three runs in his last 13 innings.
Pivetta exited with a two-run lead, which has proved to be the thinnest of margins for the Phillies' bullpen to protect. The Phils had to protect it without their best reliever, Pat Neshek, who Mackanin said was not available to pitch. "He's just sore," Mackanin said. But Neshek said he arrived at the ballpark Wednesday and was told he had the night off for rest. He had pitched six times in the previous 10 days.
"I'm fine," Neshek said.
Joaquin Benoit allowed a homer by Martinez in the eighth on a first-pitch fastball. It was his fourth run this month in 52/3 innings. Hector Neris allowed the game-tying homer by Tommy Pham in the ninth. The Phillies, who started the game with a five-run lead, were on there way to yet another loss in a season of nights that leave you wondering, "Did that really just happen?"