The boos started after he gave up a lead-off single in the top of the first and followed him, like Chad Qualls to the scrap heap, when he stepped to the plate in the bottom half of the inning.
Maybe Kyle Kendrick heard them. Maybe he didn’t care. The right-hander gave up five runs in a brutal first inning — the death knell being a three-run blast by Casey McGehee — in what amounted to a 5-4 loss Thursday afternoon to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Kendrick eventually settled down. He pitched six scoreless frames (two hits) after the first. Too bad the damage was done.
“It lets a little air out of the ballgame, you feel it, especially in the day games,” skipper Charlie Manuel said of that first inning. “At the same time, we hung in there. We hung in there and what more can you ask for when you get five runs down and you have chances to win the game.”
The Phillies did have chances to pull it out. They had two men on in the eighth, down one, and couldn’t bring a run across. In the ninth, they had the tying run, Jimmy Rollins, on third and Hunter Pence popped out to end the game.
“We definitely had the winning runs on base quite a few times there late in the game and we couldn’t get the big hit, of course,” Manuel said.
Kendrick (2-8) has lost his last four decisions, while surrendering 23 earned runs in his last 27 innings. Despite the numbers, Kendrick seemed to give himself a nice, little pat on the back.
“I gave us a chance to win, pitched deep into the game,” Kendrick said. “You don’t ever want to give up runs, but I was happy with myself to go deep like that and give us a chance.”
When asked again, Kendrick didn’t flinch.
“I was happy. I knew that I had to go deep today and I probably could have thrown another one, but they had to pinch-hit for me,” he said.
Focus on the positives, right? The Phillies remain in the NL East cellar (9.5 games behind first-place Washington) after finishing a homestand that saw them go 5-5, including two straight losses to Pittsburgh.
“It’s hard for us to get something going as far as a winning streak,” Manuel said. “We will get better.”