PITTSBURGH -- The Philadelphia Phillies owned two big leads in as many games against the NL's worst team and let them slip away both times. Losing any time during a pennant race is difficult, but two losses like these so close together hurt more than most.
Pinch-hitter Matt Kata's three-run double highlighted the Pirates' second rally from a four-run deficit against the Phillies in as many days, and Freddy Sanchez hit a go-ahead RBI double during the seven-run seventh inning that carried Pittsburgh to an oft-delayed 8-4 victory Sunday.
The Phillies, losing two of three in the series, opened a 4-0 lead on Russell Branyan's three-run homer, Jimmy Rollins' drive to start the game and Kyle Lohse's shutout pitching over six innings, but the Pirates scored eight runs in the seventh and eighth.
"I feel we definitely had a chance to sweep the series," manager Charlie Manuel said. "We let the game slip away from us, both of them."
Ian Snell (8-10) got his first victory since July 4 despite allowing eight hits and walking three while striking out 10 over seven innings. Snell was 0-5 in seven starts since the All-Star break.
In the last four days, the Pirates have rallied from deficits of four runs or more to win three times against the Mets and the Phillies, the NL East's two top teams. The Pirates came from five runs down to beat the Mets 10-7 Thursday and they trailed 4-0 and 6-2 Saturday night before defeating the Phillies 11-6.
"What you have to do is keep playing the game," Sanchez said. "Keep doing what you're trying to do and don't count yourself out."
The tough losses dropped the Phillies five games behind New York in the NL East and one game behind San Diego in the wild-card race.
"Right now, you try to go home, forget what happened and right the ship," Ryan Howard said, pointing to a 10-game homestand against the Dodgers, Padres and Mets that starts Tuesday.
Manuel was calm while talking with reporters, but was clearly troubled by losing two such similar games in less than 24 hours.
"Yeah, I'm angry. I'm very concerned -- what the hell, I want to win probably more than anybody," Manuel said.
The Pirates' newfound comeback ability is the byproduct of an offense that has slumped much of the season -- they have scored 121 fewer runs than Philadelphia -- but leads the majors with 129 runs in August.
Lohse carried a streak of 15 consecutive scoreless innings against the Pirates this season into the seventh, only to fall apart after they loaded the bases on singles by Xavier Nady and Jose Bautista and Josh Phelps' walk. Kata, a utilityman who had only four RBI in 30 games, made it 4-3 with a bases-clearing double to center that chased Lohse.
"He got behind 2-0, he doesn't want to fall behind 3-0 so I got a fastball and I put a good swing on it," said Kata, a one-time Phillies bench player. "Right there, you're just trying to hit it hard somewhere."
Nate McLouth tied it with a double off reliever J.C. Romero (0-1) and Antonio Alfonseca came in to walk Jack Wilson. Sanchez's double down the left-field line made it 5-4 before Adam LaRoche was intentionally walked. Nady finished off the rally with a two-run single, his second hit of the inning and fourth in two games after being out of the lineup for 2½ weeks with a sore hamstring.
"We were going pretty smooth there for six innings, hit a snag and it kind of snowballed," said Lohse, who had permitted Pittsburgh only one earned run in 24 2/3 innings in his career until the seventh.
Rollins began the game with his 22nd homer overall and sixth this season leading off the first, following a 44-minute rain delay. There was another delay of 63 minutes before the Pirates batted in the eighth and yet another of 24 minutes immediately before Wilson's RBI single later in the inning.
"It was frustrating, obviously, having to wait, then start, then wait, then start again -- it was a difficult way to finish the game," Philadelphia's Aaron Rowand said.
The Phillies began the day tied with San Diego for the NL wild-card lead but were 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position, the only hit being Branyan's homer. Snell hit Rowand with a pitch and Greg Dobbs singled for his third hit ahead of Branyan's homer off the left-field foul pole, his second in five at-bats with the Phillies.
Dobbs also hit a ball into the right-center seats in the second, but wasn't credited with a homer and the Phillies didn't score. Dobbs' drive went through a narrow opening between a chain-link fence that protects the first row of stands and the padded outfield wall for a double.
The Phillies haven't won a series in PNC Park since 2001, the year the ballpark opened. ... The gametime temperature was an unusually cool 61, with a chilly breeze. ... Pittsburgh is 3-8-1 in series since the All-Star break, winning only 12 of 34 although they are 10-8 in August. The Pirates went 4-4 on a weeklong homestand despite scoring seven runs or more five times. ... Lohse beat the Pirates 4-0 with a complete game for the Reds on May 28, allowing six hits. ... The three delays totaled two hours, 11 minutes.