Andrew McCutchen ran toward the center-field wall, tracked the fly ball, and reached out his glove.
It seemed to be a routine catch for the second out in the fifth inning of a 5-2 loss to the Brewers Wednesday night. But the baseball smacked McCutchen's glove, plopped to the Citizens Bank Park grass, and provided a reminder that nothing seemed to feel routine for the Phillies defense.
McCutchen's mishap, which allowed a run to score, would be the lone error the Phillies made. But it was not their only defensive shortcoming. Jake Arrieta allowed five runs and four of them seemed to have been avoidable. The Phillies, who have played solid defense this year, seemed to turn the clock back to last season.
Their defense was sloppy, their starting pitcher was not crisp, and their bats went quiet for another night. They will need to win the series finale Thursday to salvage a split against the challenging Brewers, whom the Phillies will visit next weekend.
The Brewers scored three times in the third inning after the Phillies were mixed up by a pair of ground balls.
Cesar Hernandez fielded a grounder by Christian Yelich but threw to first instead of second, where he would have been able to pick up Lorenzo Cain for the inning's first out. Rhys Hoskins could not get to first base in time and the runner was safe.
Ryan Braun, the next batter, hit a grounder with the bases loaded to third baseman Sean Rodriguez, who seemed to freeze after retrieving it.
The play could have yielded two outs had he thrown to second to start a double play or perhaps even a rare triple play if Rodriguez had stepped on third base, tagged Gio Gonzalez, who was standing near the third-base bag, and thrown to first base. He instead threw home and the play yielded just one out.
Two batters later, Jesus Aguilar stroked a two-run single.
Starter Jake Arrieta was not without blame. He started the third inning with consecutive walks, including a leadoff pass to Gonzalez, the opposing pitcher. But he seemed to do enough to escape the inning.
Jean Segura homered in the first and Nick Williams scored in the seventh on a single by McCutchen. That is all the Phillies could do. They went 1 for 6 with runners in scoring position and had two extra-base hits a night after scoring just one run.
Bryce Harper started after his knee cleared a pregame test despite being a bit swollen after he banged it a night earlier while making a diving catch. It was Harper's 42nd straight start, and manager Gabe Kapler said before the game that Harper was not risking further injury by playing.
Harper went 1 for 4 and made another diving catch in right field. He drove a ball to the warning track in the first inning for a loud out and then stroked a two-out double in the third inning.
The two swings offered some promise as Harper tries to work himself out of a prolonged funk. They were also the first and third hardest-hit balls by a Phillies batter. The second hardest-hit ball was a groundout by Arrieta. It was that kind of night.
Arrieta struck out five, walked four, and allowed five hits in six innings. He recorded 17 of his 18 outs via either groundouts or strikeouts. Arrieta had success inducing grounders with his sinker, and his groundball rate – 51.9% – is the ninth highest among major-league starters.
But, in the third inning, he learned that keeping the ball on the ground was not the best course of action because nothing seemed to be routine.