Aggressive baserunning costly for Jays
Hill homers twice, but Lidge picks off McDonald in ninth
TORONTO -- When Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz threw to third baseman Pedro Feliz, pinch-runner John McDonald froze in his tracks for a split second. McDonald sprinted back and forth between second and third, trying to evade Feliz and shortstop Eric Bruntlett as they tried to chase him down.
McDonald was finally caught while trying to duck under Feliz en route to third. Feliz applied the tag and McDonald was out -- caught stealing with center fielder Vernon Wells at the plate in the bottom of the ninth.
With the Jays down to their last out, Wells fouled off the next pitch before grounding out to Bruntlett to seal Toronto's 5-4 loss to Philadelphia on Sunday at Rogers Centre.
The Jays got out to an early lead thanks to a shining performance at the plate by second baseman Aaron Hill, but one bad inning by left-hander Brian Tallet and a few missed opportunities cost them the win.
"Just enough bad stuff happened for us not to win the game," Tallet said, summing up the mood in the clubhouse.
The Jays had a chance to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth, when the first two batters reached base with none out. Catcher Raul Chavez led off with a perfect bunt down the third-base line and managed to make it to first before the throw from Phillies closer Brad Lidge, despite his lack of speed.
McDonald was called in to pinch-run for Chavez, and shortstop Marco Scutaro took a full-count slider for ball four, trotting to first while McDonald advanced to second.
Hill popped out to Phillies second baseman Chase Utley in foul territory, giving Toronto two outs to work with as it tried to even the score. It was then that the Jays put the steal on.
"We were trying to get to third base," Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said. "I think he'd score on a fly ball, and a base hit wins the ballgame."
With a 1-2 count on Wells, McDonald broke for third before Lidge threw to Feliz -- an unexpected move based on what McDonald had seen from Lidge in his three previous pitches.
"I felt like I was making a quality judgment to steal the base," McDonald said. "You get a sign to steal a base -- you're relying on what you saw the previous three pitches and you feel like he's going to the plate."
Lidge then made a move designed to catch would-be basestealers, pivoting on one foot with his other in the air.
"It was a planned inside move," McDonald said. "I got too good of a break, because I put myself out there a little too far. When he had the inside move, I couldn't get back.
"It was an aggressive play. I didn't feel like I was overly aggressive in trying to steal the base. ... When I went, they had the inside move on and I got caught."
In the game's early innings, it didn't look as though the Jays would need to rely on stolen bases in the ninth to stay alive.
A trio of home runs -- two by Hill -- gave Toronto a comfortable 4-1 lead going into the fourth. In the opening frame, Hill drilled an 0-1 offering from Phillies starter Jamie Moyer off the left-field foul pole for a solo shot that put the Jays ahead, 1-0. The blast was Hill's 18th of the season, breaking Roberto Alomar's club record for home runs in a season by a second baseman.
Hill also homered in his next at-bat. In the third, Hill swung at the first pitch he saw from Moyer, bouncing it off Rogers Centre's second deck. That drive gave the Jays a 4-1 edge over the Phillies, after a two-run shot by left fielder Jose Bautista had given the club a 3-0 lead in the second.
The offense's work was undone in the fouth, though, as the Phillies tagged Tallet for four runs. It wasn't a show of power from the potent heart of the Phils' lineup that did Tallet in, but a series of base hits, walks and productive outs. The only big hit was a triple by Utley that plated a pair of runs.
"The problem is I coughed up a 4-0 lead, and that's something you never want to do as a starter," Tallet said.
It was the kind of aggressiveness that prompted the Jays to attempt the steal in the ninth that was missing from Tallet's game.
"I pitched around Jayson Werth a little too much today, probably should've attacked him," Tallet said.
Werth went 6-for-8 in the series with two home runs, and was 1-for-1 with three walks Sunday.
"With the [4-1] lead, definitely you've got to throw strikes, and I just didn't do it consistently enough. You give those guys extra bases and free baserunners and that's what happens. You end up giving up four runs in one inning, as opposed to a solo shot here and two doubles to score two runs.
"When you throw strikes, good things happen. ... Today, I didn't do that and I gave up the four-spot, which turned out to be critical and the difference in the game."
After falling behind, 5-4, in that fourth inning, the Jays couldn't do much against Moyer and the Phils' relief corps, putting only four runners on base in the fourth through eighth frames.
"We pretty much did the same thing to Moyer last time," Gaston said. "We hit four runs off him real quick and then he kind of slowed us down."
After Moyer left the game, the Jays finally had a chance to tie things up in the bottom of the ninth, but couldn't make the most of it.
"Tallet just had that one bad inning and [they] just kind of come back with four runs," Gaston said. "We shut them down the rest of the way, but we had a lot of chances, too."
Erika Gilbert is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.