One out from a sweep of the Washington Nationals, the Phillies suffered a bullpen meltdown en route to a 6-2 loss on Wednesday night.
Jonathan Papelbon blew a 2-1 lead with two outs in the ninth and the Nats won it on a grand slam by Ian Desmond in the top of the 11th.
The game featured an outstanding pitchers’ duel between starters Kyle Kendrick and Gio Gonzalez.
Papelbon did not get the job done and neither did the Phils’ offense. The Phils’ first two batters of the game got hits, but the team did not get another until there were two outs in the bottom of the 10th -- a span of 32 plate appearances.
The Phillies are 35-38. Washington is 35-36.
The season series is tied at 3-3. The two teams play 13 more times.
Starting pitching report
Kendrick rebounded from a poor start at Coors Field on Friday night and spun a beauty. He went 7 2/3 innings, allowed just two singles, a walk and a run while striking out six. Kendrick got 13 ground-ball outs.
Kendrick has a 2.71 ERA in his last 16 starts against NL East competition.
Gonzalez pitched brilliantly. He allowed just two hits, two walks and struck out 11 in seven innings of work. The two hits he gave up came against the first two batters of the game. One of them was a two-run home run by Michael Young.
Charlie Manuel heard some boos when he lifted Kendrick at 92 pitches for lefty Antonio Bastardo with two outs in the eighth, but Bastardo came through and retired Chris Marrero on a fly ball.
Papelbon, who opened the season with 13 straight saves, blew his second save chance of the series. He allowed a leadoff infield hit in the ninth and the Nats turned that into the tying run. Papelbon faced six batters in the ninth and three reached base.
Mike Adams survived a double and a wild pitch to record a scoreless top of the 10th.
Michael Stutes allowed a one-out double then walked two batters (one intentionally) before giving up the grand slam to Desmond on a 2-2 pitch. The Phillies’ bench thought Stutes had Desmond struck out on the previous pitch, but umpire Alfonso Marquez ruled it a ball.
Tyler Clippard, Ian Krol, Drew Storen and Rafael Soriano combined on four scoreless innings for Washington.
At the plate
Two hot hitters provided the Phillies’ offense. Ben Revere improved his hitting streak to 10 games when he led off the bottom of the first with a single. He then scored on Young’s third homer of the season. Young was down in the count, 0-2, and came back to hit a 2-2 fastball over the wall in left.
Young had three doubles in Tuesday night’s win.
Jayson Werth had a strong game against his former club. He singled home the Nats’ first run in the seventh then tied the game with a two-out, RBI single against Papelbon in the top of the ninth.
Chase Utley, who has been sidelined for a month because of a strained right oblique muscle, played at Double A Reading on Wednesday night. The plan, barring a setback, is for him to play there again on Thursday night and be activated for Friday night’s game against the Mets at Citizens Bank Park.
The Phillies have promoted third base prospect Maikel Franco from Single A Clearwater to Double A Reading.
Franco, a 20-year-old from the Dominican Republic, hit .299 with 23 doubles, 16 homers and 52 RBIs in 65 games at Clearwater.
The Phillies are off on Thursday. They open a three-game series against the New York Mets at home on Friday night. Pitching matchups:
Friday night -- RH Jeremy Hefner (1-6, 3.96) vs. LH Cole Hamels (2-10, 4.40)
Saturday afternoon -- RH Dillon Gee (5-7, 4.56) vs. RH Jonathan Pettibone (3-3, 4.40)
Sunday afternoon -- RH Matt Harvey (6-1, 2.16) vs. LH John Lannan (0-1, 5.49).