Kyle Kendrick’s season-long first inning struggles continued Sunday, but so did his effectiveness beyond the opening frame.
He has now allowed 24 earned runs in 19 first innings this season, an 11.37 ERA.
“It’s really hard to pinpoint. It’s been addressed. It’s been talked about,” manager Ryne Sandberg said of Kendrick’s first-inning struggles. “He’s experimented with some things. He seems to, at times, get away from his fastball early and go to secondary pitches early on.”
It was with his secondary pitches that Kendrick dug himself an early hole Sunday.
“Today was just not some quality pitches, I guess,” he said. “[Denard] Span hit an 0-2 changeup and found a hole and [Anthony] Rendon a cutter and Jayson, I hung a curveball.
“I think it’s just quality of pitches. I have to keep working at it. I will fix it.”
After Werth’s home run, Kendrick settled in. He retired the next 14 batters, until Nationals pitcher Tanner Roark singled to right with two outs in the fifth.
“I just think my pitches were better -- they were in better spots,” Kendrick said. “That’s all I can really say on that. I think I’m throwing the right pitch selection and the quality of pitch.”
Kendrick ran into trouble in the sixth inning, however. After Rendon singled to lead off the inning, Kendrick’s second wild pitch of the game advanced Rendon to second. The Nationals then used back-to-back sacrifice flies from Adam LaRoche and Ryan Zimmerman to score Rendon, extending their lead to 4-0.
Sandberg promptly pulled Kendrick with Werth, who had been hit by a pitch before LaRoche’s sac fly, on first base. Kendrick finished with 88 pitches, 61 of which were for strikes and walked none. He allowed five runs in 5 2/3 innings.
Mario Hollands replaced Kendrick, despite not seeing game action since July 2 in Miami when he allowed two earned and did not record an out.
Hollands gave up three straight hits Sunday. Werth scored to close out Kendrick's line for the day, while Hollands surrendered two more runs and the Nationals had a 7-0 lead after six.
Kendrick’s counterpart Sunday, Roark, threw seven innings, struck out six and allowed one earned on four hits. Roark improved to 8-6 on the season, lowering his ERA to 3.01.
Kendrick’s two earned runs after the first inning gave him 38 earned in 101 2/3 subsequent innings this season for a 3.36 ERA. He allowed only two hits after the first for a total of five on the day.
Combined with his first inning woes, Kendrick’s ERA is now 4.62. His record sits at 4-9 in 19 starts heading into the All-Star break. As of Sunday, he is scheduled to close out the Phillies’ first series of the second half with seven days rest July 20 in Atlanta.
The Phillies dropped to 8-41 in games where they score three runs or less. After losing two of three to the Nationals, the Phillies concluded the first half with a 42-53 record, 10 games behind NL East-leading Washington and Atlanta.