The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION
Phillies fall behind early, homers by Byrd and Asche aren't enough in 3-2 loss to Pirates
PHILADELPHIA - The Philadelphia Phillies have had trouble all season when trailing in games.
Falling behind right away Saturday was no different.
Andrew McCutchen hit a two-run homer in the first inning and starter Edinson Volquez had an RBI groundout in the second, helping the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Phillies 3-2.
"We haven't been able to bounce back from being down early in the game," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "It's been different when we've scored early. It's something we're going to have to try and do, score earlier in games."
Cody Asche and Marlon Byrd each homered but Philadelphia dropped a season-high 13 games below .500 at 37-50.
Philadelphia had chances to score early but Byrd stranded five men on base in his first two at-bats.
He flew out in the first to leave men on the corners, then struck on four pitches to end the third with the bases loaded.
"I have to do a better job producing in the first at-bat, too" Byrd said. "Bases loaded and I struck out. My job is to produce. Just producing in the ninth inning isn't going to get it done. You've got to produce earlier in the game, too."
Asche got the Phillies on the board in the fourth but they couldn't do anything else against Pittsburgh right-hander Edinson Volquez. He allowed just one run in seven sharp innings.
"He battled," manager Clint Hurdle said. "It was a very, I thought, gritty performance by him today because he spent a lot of time out of the stretch again."
Volquez (7-6) also had an RBI groundout with the bases loaded in the second inning as the Pirates moved a season-high five games over .500 at 46-41. The Pirates could've added to the 3-0 lead but Gregory Polanco Starling Marte each flew out with men on second and third.
McCutchen followed up Friday's game, when he was a home run shy of the cycle, with the big hit off David Buchanan. McCutchen connected to right after Polanco led off the home first with a single.
McCutchen said it was nice to begin his day with a home run after he ended Friday with a ball that smacked into the wall about 10 feet below the top.
"I got a little better swing on it," McCutchen said. "(I) got out in front of it a little more so I was able to get hands through the zone and put a little more backspin on it."
Hurdle was pleased his team jumped on top early, similar to the way the Pirates scored four runs in the first inning Friday.
"It's always nice to get in front," he said. "It does give you a sense of momentum coming out of the chute."
Buchanan (4-5) settled down to work through six innings after giving up three runs in the first two frames. He gave up six hits and issued just one intentional walk after walking nine in his last two starts.
"The biggest thing for me today was not walking anybody," Buchanan said. "If you throw strikes and make them put it in play then good things usually happen."
After giving up a home run to Byrd, Melancon retired to next three batters he faced for his 16th save. Tony Watson worked a perfect eighth.
NOTES Asche's home run in the fourth inning snapped a 16-inning scoreless streak for Volquez. . In their last 14 starts, Pittsburgh's starting pitchers have combined to post a 2.32 ERA. . Pittsburgh SS Jordy Mercer doubled twice and is batting .714 (10 for 14) in his last five games. . Pirates LHP Jeff Locke (1-1, 3.46 ERA) faces Phillies RHP A.J. Burnett (5-7, 3.92 ERA) when Pittsburgh and Philadelphia conclude their three-game series Sunday.
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