Saturday in the park. Think it was the Fourth of July.
It almost was by the time this one ended.
The Phillies and St. Louis Cardinals needed an interminable four hours and five minutes to settle things at Citizens Bank Park on Saturday.
The July 2 affair started in the afternoon, ended in the evening and the Phillies were 7-6 losers as Nolan Arenado, the Cardinals' great third baseman, stroked a pair of homers, one in the first inning to ignite a five-run rally, and one in the top of the ninth to break a 6-6 tie.
"Wow," Phillies manager Rob Thomson said when it was over. "He's hot."
Indeed, Arenado is. He hit for the cycle in Friday night's game, a 5-3 Phillies win.
Saturday's loss stung because the Phillies had a chance to gain ground on the Cardinals for the final National League wild-card spot. The loss dropped the Phils back to 2½ games out heading into Sunday's night series finale. Zack Wheeler and Adam Wainwright will hook up in a battle of top right-handers.
The loss also stung because the Phillies' offense generated 12 hits and six runs -- enough for a club to win -- and the bullpen continued to shine until Seranthony Dominguez, who has been outstanding all season, gave up the go-ahead homer to Arenado in the ninth.
"These guys kept battling, came back to tie twice," Thomson said. "They're down, 5-0, and they tied it, 5-5. They're down, 6-5, and they tied it, 6-6. We just couldn't seem to get the lead, but I'm awfully proud of the way they battled."
Starter Kyle Gibson dug the Phillies an early hole. Shortstop Bryson Stott made a great play behind the bag for the second out of the first inning. MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt then hit a slider that was off the plate for a base hit to keep the inning alive. That started a gusher of Cardinals power -- four consecutive homers by Arenado, Nolan Gorman, Juan Yepez and Dylan Carlson.
No Phillies pitcher had ever allowed back-to-back-to-back-to-back homers.
Gibson had never allowed four in a game.
Funny thing is, Goldschmidt and Arenado both hit tough pitches, sliders down. Even Gibson was a little amazed by the success Goldschmidt and Arenado had on those pitches. Two great hitters turned the inning around for St. Louis and left Gibson fighting an uphill battle.
"Goldy and Arenado hit good pitches," Gibson said. "But two of the home runs were poor location. I need to execute pitches.
"Two starts in a row, I've put the team in a tough spot early in the game, so I'll try to work on that and be ready next time. I've given up two-out runs in both starts and that's the most frustrating part. You have a chance to get out of the inning and you're not doing it."
In his previous start, Gibson gave up five runs in 2⅔ innings at San Diego but his mates came back to win the game.
They came back to tie this one with five runs in the second and third innings, two coming on a two-out double by Yairo Muñoz in the third.
The Cardinals went ahead in the fifth, 6-5, after Gibson got in trouble and left Corey Knebel with a bases-loaded mess. Knebel walked in a run but mostly limited the damage.
The Phils tied the game again at 6-6 on a base hit by Nick Castellanos in the sixth inning against Junior Fernandez. Two innings earlier, Castellanos was knocked down by a pitch that got away from reliever Jordan Hicks. Hicks owns a triple-digit fastball but the pitch that got away against Castellanos was a slider. From the bench, Schwarber took exception and an inning later he and Arenado traded words after Arenado was grazed by a pitch from Gibson.
After the game, Schwarber said it was all a misunderstanding, boys being boys, competitors being competitors.
"I kind of lost my mind unnecessarily on the high slider," he said. "I didn't realize it was a slider. I just looked up and Nick was on the ground. I asked him if it was a fastball up, and I lost it. Nolan looked over and said it was a slider. I saw the video, it was a slider. I said sorry. Then he got hit and kind of just looked in and said something, so I just went down there and was like, 'Hey man, I apologize for thinking it was a heater. It was a slider.' That was that. Just competing, nature of the game. We go out there and play tomorrow."
The Phils need a win to avoid losing their second straight series. Then it's a day off for the Fourth, three against Washington and four against these same Cardinals next week in St. Louis.