PHILADELPHIA -- Sitting in the chair in front of his locker after Monday night's game, Jonathan Papelbon was still clearly frustrated.
Papelbon, the ultra-reliable closer, took the loss in the Phillies' 4-3 setback to the Dodgers. But what had him most upset was home-plate umpire D.J. Reyburn, who called a ball on a 1-2 fastball that Papelbon thought was clearly a strike against Dee Gordon.
The next pitch from Papelbon was a splitter, and the Dodgers shortstop smacked it into the gap in right-center field for a triple. Los Angeles, which owns baseball's best record at 34-21, took the lead when Gordon was singled home by center fielder Elian Herrera, and the Phillies went down in order against Kenley Jansen to end the game.
The Phillies have now lost three in a row and, at 28-28, are back to .500 for the first time since May 24. They remain in last place in the National League East, four games back of the division-leading Nationals and Marlins.
But it was the performance of the umpire that had Philadelphia's closer riled up.
Instead of going back to the dugout after the top of the ninth inning, Papelbon walked toward home plate, hoping to ask Reyburn a question.
"You know you messed that call up," Papelbon said he told Reyburn, who motioned to Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. As crew chief Derryl Cousins came over to see what all the fuss was about, Manuel came out and walked with Papelbon back to the dugout.
"I said I want to ask him a question," Papelbon said. "[Reyburn] wouldn't let me even ask him a question."
What was the question?
"I wanted to know if he could throw me out for what I was thinking."
Despite the disputed call, this was yet another Phillies' loss that was theirs for the taking. Amid a scoreless string of five innings for either club, the Phillies squandered a one-out triple in the fifth and a bases loaded, two-out situation in the seventh.
"We usually are a hit away from winning the game," Manuel said. "We could use a [sacrifice] fly or we could need anything to score a run. We're not getting any of it. I don't know what to tell you."
A Placido Polanco two-run homer in the third inning tied the game at 3. The Phillies had a chance to take the lead in the fifth when Jimmy Rollins tripled. With one out and Rollins told to run on contact, Polanco drilled a ground ball to Gordon at shortstop. Rollins had no chance. The throw to home beat him easily.
"That's us taking a chance at that point in the game," Manuel said. "It just so happened that Polly hit the ball pretty hard right at the shortstop. If he hits it where [Gordon] has to go one step either way, we probably would've gotten a run."
Philadelphia had another chance in the seventh. Singles by Freddy Galvis, Rollins and Polanco set up Hunter Pence with the bases loaded and two outs. Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw offered Pence a fastball, which he hit weakly to second base for the third out. Pence has just two hits in his past 33 at-bats with runners in scoring position.
Vance Worley, fresh off a three-week stay on the disabled list with right elbow inflammation and a bone chip, started the game for the Phillies and was held to 80 pitches over four innings. The right-hander looked a little rusty, allowing three runs on five hits with three walks and four strikeouts. Afterward, Worley said he felt good and he had no tightness in his elbow, a good sign going forward for the Phillies.
"It's nice knowing that there's nothing in there that's going to bother me, and I've just got to go out there and pitch," Worley said.
Manuel hinted that Worley wasn't getting all the calls he deserved, either, and Papelbon certainly wasn't the only one who had a problem with Reyburn, a fill-in umpire from the Triple-A level. Dodgers bench coach Trey Hillman was ejected for arguing balls and strikes.
"When he threw him out he was just standing there," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "So I went out and said, 'What are you doing?' I said, 'You're going to leave a Cy Young Award winner [Kershaw] standing in the rain.' And he threw me out."
"Maybe it's the TV game," Mattingly continued. "I know they're on ESPN and maybe they should not put him behind the plate. Put a veteran guy back there or something."
"All night long," said Papelbon, who fell to 0-2 but remains 15-for-15 in save situations. "From Kershaw to Vance, all the way through the ninth inning. And it really affected the game. It affected the outcome of the game."
Told Reyburn was an umpire from Triple-A, Papelbon said it didn't surprise him.
"[He] probably needs to go back to Triple-A," he said. "That's not a knock on him. That's not a knock on the umpires. You're up in the big leagues for a reason: to do a good job. ... If I don't do my job, I go down to Triple-A, you know? There's no room for that up here. And like I said, it's not a knock on the umpires, it's the integrity of the game. You want to be able to go out there and play the game the way it should be played."
Jake Kaplan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.