LOS ANGELES (AP) — Phillies reliever Justin De Fratus was ahead 0-2 against Dodgers rookie Yasiel Puig with two outs, the bases loaded and Philadelphia clinging to a one-run lead in the seventh inning.
Then the right-hander threw a third slider where he shouldn’t have.
Puig singled home two runs to help Los Angeles send the Phillies to a 6-4 loss Thursday night in the opener of a four-game series.
Philadelphia lost despite 14 hits — 12 against Zack Greinke — and solo homers from Domonic Brown and Chase Utley.
“He could have expanded the zone a little more,” manager Charlie Manuel said of De Fratus (2-2). “He made it a little too good for him. I mean, it might have been a ball, but at the same time, he was able to put his bat on it. It’s a pitch where you really have to make him chase.”
Puig is batting a robust .427 with seven homers and 16 RBIs in just 23 big league games, so the Phillies’ rookie knew his work was cut out for him.
“He was ready to hit, so my plan there was to slow him down and try to use his aggressiveness against him,” De Fratus said. “It worked on the first two pitches. I didn’t think I threw a bad pitch on the next one, but it wasn’t where I was trying to get it and he burned me. It’s no secret that he covers a lot of the plate. I gave him my best stuff and he beat me today. He’s on fire.”
Phillies righty Jonathan Pettibone threw 96 pitches through six innings and was lifted for a pinch-hitter after giving up three runs and four hits. The rookie retired his final 15 batters.
“He settled in and took us to a good place in the game and gave us a chance to win,” Manuel said. “We had guys on base all night, but we didn’t get the big hit — the clutcher. We got 14 hits. Ben Revere, Delmon Young, Utley, those guys got some hits, but we had guys who went 0 for 4 in-between them.”
Pettibone trailed 3-0 after just 17 pitches. Matt Kemp hit an RBI double inside third base, and two more runs came in on Andre Ethier’s double off the fence in right-center. Young prevented another run, sprinting toward the right field corner and stretching out to grab A.J. Ellis’ extra-base bid.
Young tied a career high with four hits — all singles — and put himself within seven of 1,000 for his career. But he was picked off second base by Greinke in the second inning.
Brown, in his first career at-bat against Greinke, put Philadelphia on the board in the second when he drove a 3-2 fastball to center for his 21st homer — tying Colorado’s Carlos Gonzalez for the NL lead.
“He’s come a long way. His swing’s much better,” Manuel said. “He’s well-balanced at the plate and he works the count good. Greinke made some good pitches on him inside and off the plate, but Domonic’s been very patient and he’s changed his whole hitting around.”
The Phillies tied it 3-all in the fifth with four consecutive one-out hits, including run-scoring singles by Utley and Jimmy Rollins — only his second RBI in 10 games. Greinke, who hasn’t committed an error in his last 87 starts, minimized the damage by turning Ryan Howard’s comebacker into an inning-ending double play after a visit from pitching coach Rick Honeycutt.
“Zack probably didn’t have his best stuff, but he just competed,” Ellis said. “That’s a tough lineup. I mean, they match up all those tough lefties at the top and they have a good mix of players with a lot of professional hitters. But Zack held on and gave us a chance.”
Greinke (4-3) struck out five over seven innings and allowed four runs, helping the Dodgers get their season-best sixth straight win. The right-hander came out for a pinch-hitter in the seventh after giving up Utley’s tiebreaking homer in the top of the inning.
Puig was shaken up crashing into the right field auxiliary scoreboard while trying to track Utley’s ninth homer. But Puig was none the worse for wear — as he would prove moments later with his clutch hit.
“He kind of reminds me of myself,” Kemp said of the Cuban wunderkind. “Sometimes he plays too hard, and sometimes you have to tell him: ‘Man, calm down. You can’t make every play.’ But he’s done an amazing job in his first month in the big leagues. He’s gotten big hits and made big plays on defense. He’s doing a lot, and I think we’re just feeding off the kid.”
NOTES: Former Phillies C Darren Daulton, who played for their 1993 NL championship team and spent the majority of his 15 big league seasons with them, was diagnosed with two brain tumors and will undergo surgery next week. … Kevin Frandsen started at 3B for the third time this season in place of Michael Young, who didn’t start after playing in 21 consecutive games and starting in 20 of them. … Two days after UCLA captured its first College Baseball World Series title, most of the players from the team were introduced one-by-one along the first base line just before the start of the game. At the end of the line were two former Bruins who played for the Dodgers — Tim Leary and Todd Zeile, whose son Shane is a catcher of the current squad. … Utley, who also played for UCLA, has six home runs and a .320 average in 31 career games at Dodger Stadium. He was 3 for 5 Thursday.