Phillies vs. Cardinals: Nolan Arenado cheers for Phillies, Seranthony Dominguez loses

Saturday in the park. Think it was July 4th.

It was almost at the time this ended.

The Phillies and St. Louis Cardinals took an endless four hours and five minutes to settle things at Citizens Bank Park on Saturday.

The July 2 affair began in the afternoon, ended in the evening, and the Phillies lost 7-6 when Nolan Arenado, the Cardinals’ great third baseman, stroked two homers, one in the first inning, to ignite a five-run rally , and one at the top of the ninth to break a 6-6 tie.

“Wow,” said Phillies manager Rob Thomson when it was over. “He is hot.”

Indeed Arenado is. He batted for the cycle in Friday night’s game, a 5-3 Phillies win.

Saturday’s loss hurt because the Phillies had a chance to gain ground against the Cardinals for the last wildcard spot in the National League. The loss dropped the Phils to 2½ games before going into Sunday’s night series finals. Zack Wheeler and Adam Wainwright will meet in a top right-hander battle.

The loss also hurt because the Phillies’ offense generated 12 hits and six runs — enough for a club to win — and the bullpen continued to shine until Seranthony Dominguez, who’s been outstanding all season, hit the go-ahead homer Arenado resigned in the ninth.

“These guys kept fighting and came back twice to get a draw,” Thomson said. “They’re 5-0 down and they’re tied 5-5. They’re tied 5-6 and 6-6. We just couldn’t take the lead but I’m awfully proud of how they fought.”

Starter Kyle Gibson dug an early hole for the Phillies. Shortstop Bryson Stott made a great play from behind the pocket for the second of the first inning. MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt then hit a slider off the plate for a base hit to keep the inning alive. That unleashed a wave of Cardinals power — four consecutive homers from Arenado, Nolan Gorman, Juan Yepez and Dylan Carlson.

No Phillies pitcher had ever allowed back-to-back home runs.

Gibson had never allowed four in a game.

The funny thing is that Goldschmidt and Arenado both caught hard pitches, slider down. Even Gibson was a little amazed at the success Goldschmidt and Arenado had in those places. Two big hitters turned the inning over for St. Louis and left Gibson fighting an uphill battle.

“Goldy and Arenado hit good pitches,” Gibson said. “But two of the home runs came from a bad lie. I have to do pitches.

“Two starts in a row, I put the team in a difficult position early in the game, so I’ll try to work on that and be ready next time. I gave up two runs in both starts and that’s the most frustrating part. You have a chance to get out of the inning and you don’t.

On his previous start, Gibson gave up five runs in 2⅔ innings at San Diego, but his pals came back to win the game.

They came back to level that game with five runs in the second and third innings, two of them with a two-out double from Yairo Muñoz in the third.

The Cardinals took a 6-5 lead in the fifth after Gibson got into trouble and left Corey Knebel with a baseless mess. Gag went in one run, but mostly limited the damage.

The Phils again leveled the game 6-6 after Nick Castellanos hit a base in the sixth inning against Junior Fernandez. Two innings earlier, Castellanos was knocked down by a throw that escaped assist Jordan Hicks. Hicks owns a three-figure fastball, but the pitch that got away against Castellanos was a slouch. From the bench, Schwarber took the initiative and an inning later he and Arenado exchanged words after Arenado was grazed by a Gibson pitch.

After the game, Schwarber said it was all a misunderstanding, boys being boys, competitors being competitors.

“I kind of unnecessarily lost my mind on the high slider,” he said. “I didn’t know it was a slider. I just looked up and Nick was on the floor. I asked him if it was a fastball up and I lost him. Nolan looked over and said it was a slider. I saw the video, it was a slider. I apologized. Then he got hit and just looked in and said something, so I just walked down and said, ‘Hey man, I apologize for thinking it was a heater a slider.’ That was that. Just compete, the nature of the game. We’re going out there and playing tomorrow.”

The Phils need a win to avoid losing their second straight series. Then there’s a day off for the Fourth, three against Washington and four against the same Cardinals next week in St. Louis.

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