PHILADELPHIA — If it can go wrong for the Phillies, it does right now.
Gaby Sanchez homered and drove in three runs, and Garrett Jones hit a go-ahead, two-run double to lead the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 6-4 comeback victory over the struggling Philadelphia Phillies today.
Justin Wilson (2-0) pitched two hitless innings in relief of James McDonald and the Pirates won their third straight and 10th in of 13 games. Taking the four-game series gave Pittsburgh its first series win in Philadelphia since April 4-6, 2003 at now-demolished Veterans Stadium.
The slumping Phillies offense scored more than three runs for just the ninth time in 23 games, but this time Cliff Lee and the Philadelphia bullpen couldn’t hold on to a late-inning lead.
“We’re just not playing good baseball right now,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “We’re in a bad term, or whatever you want to call it. We’re trying and we have a lot of life, but we’re not getting it done. We’re in a period where we’re not playing good at all.”
Ryan Howard went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs and Domonic Brown had a pair of doubles with an RBI for the Phillies, who have lost three straight and eight of 11. And the frustration was apparent in the eighth inning when Manuel was ejected by third-base umpire Dan Iassogna for arguing that Clint Barmes should have been called out for interference.
“There’s still plenty of season left, but I would like to see us play better, no doubt,” Lee said. “It’s a concern. We have to play a better game.”
With Lee pitching well, the Phillies carried a 3-1 lead into the seventh, but the lefty gave up two-out RBI singles to Sanchez and Michael McKenry.
“That’s where I have to do a good job of keeping the lead,” said Lee, adding that both RBIs were broken-bat hits. “I felt like I made some decent pitches. Things went their way that inning.”
Manuel thought about lifting Lee after Sanchez’s hit and made a trip to the mound, but the pitcher said he felt fine despite having thrown 114 pitches to that point.
“I never want to come out of a game, especially in the middle of an inning,” said Lee, who allowed three runs on 10 hits while striking out seven and walking one. “I’m glad he gave me the chance. I felt like I made pitches, but the ball went their way.”
The Pirates took the lead in the eighth off reliever Phillippe Aumont.
Jones, pinch-hitting for Brandon Inge, laced a double off the wall in right with one out against Aumont (1-3) to put the Pirates ahead 5-3. After striking out Jose Tabata to start the inning, Aumont hit Barmes with a pitch and allowed consecutive singles to Travis Snider and Starling Marte to load the bases with one out.
Chad Durbin replaced Aumont and gave up Sanchez’s sacrifice fly that made it 6-3.
Asked if it’s frustrating for the team right now, Aumont said, “Yeah, obviously. W’re trying to get out of it and get on a roll.”
The three-run lead was plenty for the stingy Pirates bullpen, which entered second in the majors with a 1.78 ERA. Tony Watson pitched the last two innings for his first career save while closer Jason Grilli had the day off.
“We all know our roles,” Sanchez said. “We just want to stay ready.”
The Phillies scored a pair of runs in the sixth on Howard’s RBI single and Brown’s sacrifice fly. Earlier, in the fifth, Lee tried to steal second base after reaching on an infield single in the fifth, but was thrown out.
“Basically I had it,” Lee said. “I just got too antsy and took off too early.”
McDonald allowed three runs and five hits with three walks and four strikeouts in five-plus innings.
Brown hit a blooper that fell in for an RBI double in the fourth that made it 1-0 before Sanchez tied it with a leadoff homer in the sixth.
It was the third homer in the last three starts for Sanchez, who is batting .533 (8-for-15) in his last seven games.
“I wasn’t thinking homer, I was hoping more for something to right-center and I was able to hit it out,” Sanchez said. “I’m feeling good at the plate.”
Notes: Manuel’s ejection was his first of the season and 51st of his 12-year managerial career. Slumping Phillies OF Ben Revere didn’t start for the first time this season. He is batting .207 with 14 strikeouts in 87 at-bats. Ezequiel Carrera went 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts in his place. ... Phillies RHP Kyle Kendrick (1-1, 3.28) is scheduled to face Pirates righty Dillon Gee (1-3, 5.95) when the teams open a three-game set in New York on Friday.