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Phillies fall for the first time all season when entering 9th with a lead

DENVER — The Phillies had the Rockies down to their final out Friday night with a backup catcher pinch-hitting out of the No. 9 spot.

They’d been 32-0 when leading after eight innings, but not anymore. Light-hitting catcher Jacob Stallings shocked Jose Alvarado by cranking a first-pitch, game-tying solo homer, and the Rockies walked the Phils off in the 11th when Ezequiel Tovar singled with the bases loaded against Gregory Soto.

It was a rare misstep for a bullpen that has been on a roll in May. Alvarado had not blown a save all season, posting a 1.31 ERA in his last 22 appearances.

The Phillies are 37-15 after their six-game winning streak was snapped. They’ve gone 23-5 over the last month and those five losses have come by 1, 1, 1, 1 and 2 runs, three of them in extras.

Bryce Harper was ejected after arguing a strike call in the top of the first and the Phillies were held hitless through the game’s first three innings for only the second time all season. They struck first with two runs in the top of the fifth on solo homers by Nick Castellanos and Edmundo Sosa.

Cristopher Sanchez turned in another solid start, limiting the Rockies to one run over 5⅓ innings. It was equally encouraging that he maintained the career-best velocity from last weekend against the Nationals. In that last start, Sanchez touched 98, hit 97 mph seven times and averaged a career-high 95.4 with his sinker. On Friday night, he didn’t reach 98 but he averaged 95.3 with his sinker. It averaged 92.2 last season.

Thomson lifted the lefty for Orion Kerkering with two men on base and one out in the bottom of the sixth and Kerkering quickly ended the inning with a pair of grounders to short, then picked up all three outs in the seventh. It was a valuable experience, only the second time in the majors that Kerkering entered a game with men aboard.

Kerkering being this effective this early into his big-league career has been such an important development for the Phillies, especially with fellow right-handed reliever Seranthony Dominguez struggling. The 23-year-old owns a 1.86 ERA in 18 career appearances. Like Sanchez with the changeup, Kerkering already has a plus pitch (the sweeper) but is now beginning to utilize his fastball more. The results have been impressive.

Jeff Hoffman went 1-2-3 in the eighth but Alvarado was unable to finish the job. The Phillies did not play poorly, they just didn’t hit. Sosa and Castellanos homered and Sosa later doubled, but the rest of the lineup went 4-for-32 without an extra-base hit.

The Phillies look to even the series Saturday at 7:10 p.m. when Aaron Nola (6-2, 3.05) opposes hittable right-hander Dakota Hudson (1-7, 5.89).