Phils fall to Braves in Billingsley’s return

Phillies starting pitcher Chad Billingsley started a game for the first time since 2013 due to two surgeries. (Reinhold Matay | USA TODAY Sports)

Phillies starting pitcher Chad Billingsley started a game for the first time since 2013 due to two surgeries. (Reinhold Matay | USA TODAY Sports)

ATLANTA, Ga. — Pathetic may not be a strong enough word to describe the latest edition to the Phillies disastrous season.

Chad Billingsley returned to the mound for the first time since he was injured April 15, 2013.

Tonight’s game was far from the return Billingsley wanted, allowing five runs on eight hits while striking out two strikeouts and one walk, as the Phillies fell to the Braves 9-0.

A big piece from 2008-2012 in the Los Angeles Dodgers rotation, the 30-year old had his elbow give out in April 2013. He had Tommy John surgery and then the next year, he required another surgery to fix a torn flexor tendon.

“I’ve been working hard for a couple of years,” Billingsley told CSN-Philly’s Jim Salisbury. “Now I get to compete again and try to win a baseball game. I’m just really happy about that.”

The Phillies took a chance on Billingsley, singing him to an incentive-laden contract in January.

This might not be the chance they wanted to see as he threw 77 pitches in his xx-innings of work, with only 46 of the 77 coming in as strikes.

What about the Braves starting pitcher, you ask?

Shelby Miller threw a complete-game, 99-pitch shutout and held the Phils to just three hits. His pitch count, just 24 of the 99 pitchers were balls. Through the first four innings, it took him just 31 pitches.

The Phillies sat Chase Utley, causing a bit of a shuffle throughout the lineup and defensive alignment. Cesar Hernandez got on base twice for the Phils, hitting a bunt single and walking.

Phillies manager Ryne Sanderg told Salisbury that this “break” could last more than just Tuesday.

“There’s something to that,” Sandberg said. “Sometimes you can take a break and get away from metal grind and the mental work he puts into his daily routine. I feel for the guy because of everything he puts into it. He just hasn’t had any luck. I told him to take a little break. Other than that, it’s tough to talk mechanics or anything like that because he’s hitting line drives and putting the balls in play.”

Sandberg said that Utley should return to the lineup Friday night at home against the Mets.

“Just take a break and start fresh,” the Manager said to Salisbury. “Hopefully his luck will change.”

This season, Utley is hitting .103 (9-87) this season. Among the 183 qualifying hitters, that is the lowest. Since last May 29, Utley is hitting .215.

With both Darin Ruff and Ben Revere in the lineup, Revere made his first start in right field since 2012 to make room for Ruff.

Cody Asche made a few mishaps in the field, including a error on what could have been a double-play, which cost Billingsley a run in the fourth.

Freddie Freeman hit a two-run homer in the first followed by Kelly Johnson’s three-run shot in the fourth. The Braves added three more runs in the seventh off of Dustin McGowan.

Jerome Williams (2-1, 4.08 ERA) will faceoff with right-hander Mike Foltynewicz (1-0, 3.60 ERA) on Wednesday.

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