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Suarez done in by early control issues in first loss of 2024

DENVER — It took nearly two months, but the Phillies finally dropped a series and Ranger Suarez finally lost a game.

The Phils had won 11 series and split four since dropping two of three games to the Reds the first week of the season. They blew a ninth-inning lead Friday night in an extra-inning loss to the Rockies, came back to win in the ninth inning Saturday and fell behind quickly in Sunday’s 5-2 loss.

Ranger Suarez allowed a two-run shot to Ryan McMahon in the bottom of the first inning, a ball that just kept carrying to right-center field. It was a windy day at Coors Field, blowing in 10-15 mph from left field, but right and right-center can be a jetstream.

Suarez then walked four batters in a three-run second inning that included just one hit. He had a chance to escape the inning by allowing only one run when Brendan Rodgers hit a sharp groundball to Alec Bohm with the bases loaded, but Bohm bobbled it and threw errantly to first base after stepping on third. Two runs scored on the play.

Suarez entered 9-0 with a 1.36 ERA and MLB-leading 0.79 WHIP. He was looking to become the first Phillie ever to win 10 consecutive starts. He was due for one of these. He’s now 9-1 with a 1.75 ERA.

“First two innings, I didn’t have command of my changeup or curveball,” he said. “My fastball wasn’t going for strikes either. I think that was the game right there. When I finally was able to adjust, we were already five down.

“I think it was just a bad day, a bad couple of innings, because after we made the adjustments, my curveball and changeup were working and I was able to mix my pitches better.”

Suarez did rebound to retire the final 13 hitters he faced and get through six innings, which was important in preserving the bullpen with Taijuan Walker starting Monday. Spencer Turnbull, the only true long man in the ‘pen, had the ninth inning Saturday and has never pitched back-to-back days as a pro. Jose Ruiz, who’s gone two innings twice this month, pitched Friday and Saturday and manager Rob Thomson rarely uses a reliever three days in a row.

“The last two nights, we’ve had pitchers with 30-plus pitch innings and they get through six,” Thomson said. “You don’t see that very often, that’s usually five at best. Those guys are grinding, they figure it out.

“I would chalk it up to one of those days.”

The Phillies made a game of it with runs in the fourth and fifth innings. Bohm singled in Kyle Schwarber and Johan Rojas singled in Brandon Marsh. A three-run deficit at Coors Field can be overcome quickly but the lineup couldn’t string together enough hits to draw closer with just two singles over the final four innings.

The 38-16 Phillies now move on to San Francisco for a three-game series against the 27-27 Giants. Walker, Zack Wheeler and Cristopher Sanchez will pitch for the Phils. The Giants have lefties scheduled for the series opener (Blake Snell) and finale (Kyle Harrison) with Tuesday TBD.

“Just a little bit weird,” Thomson said of the weekend. “You come in here and you think because of the thin air you’re gonna score a bunch of runs and hit home runs, and we didn’t have any slug today.

“Just one of those days, one of those weekends I guess.”