PHILADELPHIA -- Mitchell Boggs' latest agony culminated with a go-ahead RBI hit by Ben Revere that almost took the reliever's hat off and a three-run homer by Erik Kratz that landed in the left-field stands. But it started with him muffing a soft grounder on what Boggs said was his best pitch of the inning.
"My breaking ball to [Michael] Young was a great pitch, exactly what I wanted it to be," said Boggs, who momentarily had the ball in his glove before it rolled away behind him. "I should have caught that ball, most Major League pitchers catch that ball 100 percent of the time. It was right to me."
Instead of two outs and nobody on in the bottom of the eighth, the Phillies, who had twice erased one-run deficits, had the winning run on base. Young went to third on Domonic Brown's single to left-center and scored on Revere's smash up the middle. Kratz unloaded on an elevated first-pitch fastball and closer Jonathan Papelbon finished off the Phillies' 7-3 victory that gave them a split of the four-game series.
"I don't know what happened," said Boggs, who three weeks into the season has two blown saves, an 0-2 record and a 12.46 ERA. "[Maybe] I thought it was further away than it was and it caught me on the heel of the glove. But that is an out every day of the week."
However long it takes to get Boggs straightened out, manager Mike Matheny vowed to take all the time needed.
"It's all about confidence," Matheny said. "He is a very confident guy but he has had some tough circumstances.
"He is going to get over it and he's going to get over it real soon. We need him to get over it real soon. He has to get it right and the only way that is going to happen is by pitching. He is going to be a big part of what we have to do moving forward."
The Cardinals' bullpen, statistically the worst in the National League in nearly every category coming into this series, appeared to be taking a major step forward this weekend with eight consecutive scoreless innings -- until Laynce Nix greeted Fernando Salas, who relieved Jake Westbrook in the seventh, with a game-tying double.
Salas came back to strike out Jimmy Rollins and get a groundout from John Mayberry Jr., then Randy Choate got Chase Utley to ground out to get the Cardinals out of the inning still tied.
Matheny went to Boggs, the Cardinals' bread-and-butter eighth-inning guy in 2012. "He was the best guy we had to go with right then," said Matheny, and a groundout by Ryan Howard was a good start to proving the manager correct until Young's single bounced away before it was bomb's away.
"These guys played too hard tonight for me to come in and do this," Boggs said.
Among the letdown was Westbrook, who gave up his first earned runs of the season in the first when Utley singled in Rollins and Howard scored Mayberry with a sacrifice fly, then settled in nicely. Allen Craig's seventh-inning single scored Jon Jay, who had reached on a throwing error by Utley, to inch the Cardinals back ahead 3-2, but Salas, who relieved Westbrook after Kratz led off the seventh with a ground single, couldn't hold it and Matheny called on Boggs to start the eighth.
"I just wasn't able to get my sinker to the bottom of the zone," Boggs said. "That's why I am here, pounding to the bottom of the zone.
"I thought I had a really good camp. Sitting here on April 21, this is not how I envisioned this season starting. Or any part of my season being like this. But it is happening and I am right in the middle of this.
"There are a couple of ways I can handle this, either feel sorry for myself and make excuses and hide from it, or face it and get better. And that's what I think I am going to do."
Jay Greenberg is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.