Phillies looking for more from bullpen

Phillies looking for more from bullpen

ATLANTA -- The Phillies' bullpen has had a well-documented problem walking batters this season.

It finished Wednesday's 7-5 loss to the Braves at Turner Field with 56 walks to lead Major League Baseball. The bullpen allowed a walked batter to score a run in each of the final nine games of a 3-7 road trip.

"It's the growing pains of it," Ryan Howard said. "They're going to get better. I have confidence in those guys. It's all a learning curve I guess."

But another bullpen problem resurfaced in the sixth inning when Phillies left-hander Jake Diekman allowed a one-out double to Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman, which scored a couple runs.

They were the 12th and 13th inherited runners out of 28 to score this season.

The bullpen's 46.4 inherited runners scored percentage is 29th in baseball.

Those runs proved big as the Phillies scored three runs in the sixth inning and another run in the ninth.

"I thought Diek had an opportunity for a shutdown, maybe minimize there facing the left-handers," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "Especially Freeman. Went to a 3-2 count. Kind of erased any doubts of a slider there."

Freeman hit a 97 mph fastball over the middle of the plate to clear the bases.

"He had to go to his fastball," Sandberg said. "We have to get better with control and command and strikes out of the bullpen. We fall behind in the count. Pitching behind in the count turns into hitters' counts. That combination right there is what we have to get better at in the bullpen."

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone. Follow him on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.