PHILADELPHIA -- Francisco Rodriguez had a hard time putting into words what happened in Monday night's ninth inning.
"What can I tell you? I didn't get it done," the closer said after squandering a three-run lead in a 7-6 loss to the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.
Monday's defeat was the fourth straight for the struggling Brewers, and it was a tough one to swallow. After battering Philadelphia ace Roy Halladay, Milwaukee looked poised to erase the memories of three straight losses in Cincinnati.
Less than a week after taking over closer duties from John Axford, Rodriguez entered with a comfortable 6-3 lead. He started the ninth by striking out pinch-hitter Laynce Nix but then walked Jimmy Rollins. After getting ahead 0-2, Rodriguez gave up a single to Juan Pierre and then walked Chase Utley to load the bases.
On another 0-2 count, Ryan Howard tagged Rodriguez with a two-run single and Carlos Ruiz followed that with a single to tie the game. A walk to Hunter Pence -- who was also behind 0-2 -- loaded the bases for Ty Wigginton, who hit a game-winning sacrifice fly to right field.
"That's why you play the game out," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.
With the loss, the Brewers fell to 44-51 and dug themselves a deeper hole in the National League Wild Card race. At game's end, they were eight games back of both Wild Card spots.
"I just didn't have any command of the baseball," said Rodriguez, who fell to 2-5. "I didn't get it done. It's really painful. I just take it and move forward."
Said manager Ron Roenicke: "We played a good game. We just didn't get it done in the ninth."
The Brewers scored two runs in the first, another in the third and increased their lead to 6-2 in the fourth, when Carlos Gomez hit a first-pitch curveball from Halladay off the foul pole in left field for a three-run home run.
"You only need one at-bat to find yourself again," said Gomez, who went 2-for-3 with a walk, a hit-by-pitch, two stolen bases and three runs scored. "Like [Sunday], I got an at-bat against [Reds closer Aroldis Chapman] and I saw really tough pitches and I fouled off a lot of pitches. That at-bat made me feel more comfortable at the plate today."
Starter Randy Wolf allowed just two runs on five hits in six innings, struck out five and walked three. His two biggest mistakes came in the first, when he allowed back-to-back homers to former teammates Utley and Howard.
Ultimately, Wolf pitched well enough to get the win. But for the left-handed veteran, who is 3-6 with a 5.46 ERA, it's been a tough season.
"It's been by far the most frustrating year of my professional career," said Wolf, who delivered his second straight quality start. "Personally, it's been frustrating. Team-wise, it's been frustrating. It's been a very tough year. It's been a lot of losses that are hard to swallow."
This was another of those. The bullpen took over a 6-2 game in the seventh. The Phillies scored one run on a passed ball, but Axford came in and prevented further damage. With two runners in scoring position, Axford caught Ruiz looking on a full-count slider to cap off a 10-pitch at-bat. He then pitched a scoreless eighth to bridge the gap to the closer.
"That's what we've been hoping he would do by changing the roles a little bit. When he does that we're pleased, " Roenicke said of Axford. "He's got great stuff. He's just got to command it better and he did tonight."
Enter Rodriguez, who was pitching for the first time since Wednesday. Roenicke said that amount of rest for a closer is "not the ideal way to pitch and keep your command." But before that, Rodriguez had pitched four straight games.
"It creates problems when we're not consistent in what we do in ballgames," Roenicke said.
"Frankie's always been a guy that's made pitches when he needs to. I'm not used to seeing Frankie like this."
Jake Kaplan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.