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July 27 2007

It's that kind of mornin', really was that kinda night.

Forgetting for a moment the Utley injury, the Phillies played a game yesterday.  That was pretty brutal, too.

Jesus Flores.  Again.  Wouldn't have guessed that.  Certainly wouldn't have guessed it twice in two days.  It's kind of a hard one to come to grips with.

For the second time in two games, Jesus Flores came up with a huge swing of the bat with men on base late in the game.  For the second time in two days the righty did it with rookie lefty Mike Zagurski on the mound for the Phillies.  After stroking a two-run double against Zagurski to give the Nats a 5-4 lead in the ninth inning on Wednesday night, Flores hammered a three-run shot in the eighth that won the game for the Nats yesterday.

Seriously, though, the Utley thing is bad, but has anyone noticed the Phillies have a problem in their bullpen?  One of the ways you can tell is that Mike Zagurski is pitching to righties with the game on the line.

Another bullpen collapse for the Phils yesterday afternoon as the team couldn't hold the 5-2 lead they took into the seventh inning.  One of the biggest stories of the game for the bullpen was the guy that didn't pitch.  Tom Gordon rode the bench as Zagurski served up the eighth-inning game winner to a righty.  Counting yesterday's contest in which he didn't appear, Gordon has thrown eight pitches in the last five days. 

The Phillies need to let Gordon pitch or give his roster spot to someone else.  Soon.

The Phillies lost to to the Washington Nationals yesterday afternoon, falling 7-6 to drop to 52-49 on the season.  It was the Phils' fifth attempt to go five games over .500 for the season.  0-for-5.  The Phils take the series two games to one.

Adam Eaton got the start for the Phillies and went 6 1/3 innings, allowing four runs on eight hits.  Only one of the hits went for extra-bases, a double.  He struck out two and didn't walk a batter.

Felipe Lopez and Ronnie Belliard started the first with back-to-back singles that put men on first and second with nobody out for Ryan Zimmerman.  Zimmerman hit it hard into center, but Rowand took it at the track for the first out.  Lopez went to third and Belliard to second.  Dmitri Young was next and he dumped a single in front of Burrell in left.  Lopez scored to put the Nats up 1-0.  Austin Kearns was next and he hit a ground ball to third that took a bad hop and got past Helms.  Belliard scored and Young went to second with Washington up 2-0.  Helms was originally given an error on the play, but the call was later changed to a single.  Would have been a tough error.  Ryan Church was next and hit a ground ball to second.  Kearns was forced at second for the second out but the Phillies couldn't turn two.  Young went to third and with men on first and third and two down, Eaton struck out Jesus Flores to end the frame.

Nook Logan started the second with a single and the pitcher John Lannan popped his bunt attempt up to first for the first out.  Third time in the series the Nats have had their pitcher try to bunt Logan to second.  One-for-three.  Lopez flew to left for the second out and Logan was caught stealing by Barajas to end the inning.  So apparently the Phils can throw Logan out if he wants to steal.  Who knew?

Eaton threw a 1-2-3 third and a 1-2-3 fourth.

He needed eight pitches to throw a 1-2-3 fifth.

Young singled into right with two outs in the sixth and the Phils up 5-2, but Eaton got Kearns on a soft fly ball to left for the third out.

Flores singled with one out in the seventh and Logan followed and doubled into the corner in left, sending Flores to third.  Lefty Brian Schneider pinch-hit for the pitcher and Manuel called on JC Romero to pitch to him.  Righty Tony Batista hit for Schneider and Romero got him on a soft liner to third for the second out.  Romero stayed in to pitch to the switch-hitter Lopez and Lopez singled past Rollins and into center.  Two runs scored and the Phils' lead was cut to 5-4.  Lopez has been better against lefties this season, 274/349/389 compared to just 227/277/322 against righties, but about the same over his career (260/317/390 vs LHP, 258/332/402 vs RHP).  Mesa entered the game to pitch to Belliard and struck him out to end the frame.  For Mesa it was the 1,000 appearance of his career.

If you're looking for things to complain about how Manuel has used his pen, the Lopez single was huge and it came against a lefty by a guy who hasn't hit righties this year.

Mesa returned to start the eighth and the leadoff man Zimmerman hit a ground ball to third.  Helms' throw to first was in the dirt and Zimmerman was safe on the error.  Young was next and he hit a ground ball to third, Helms forced Zimmerman at second for the first out.  Robert Fick ran for Young at first.  Kearns was next and Mesa walked him, putting men on first and second.  With the lefty Church at the plate, Zagurski relieved Mesa.  Zagurski got Church on a fly ball to left for the second out and it brought up Flores, who had smoked a huge double against Zagurski the night before.  Zagurski stayed in the game and it didn't work this time, either.  Flores hit a three-run homer to left and the Nats led 7-5.  Zagurski got Logan on a ground ball to short to end the frame.

Flores came into the series with five extra-base hits in his career.

The Helms' error to start the eighth was huge.

The righties who could have come in to pitch to him were Gordon, who appeared yesterday but threw just eight pitches, or Madson, who had pitched two days in a row.  Condrey threw 46 pitches the night before.  Manuel wasn't likely to pitch Alfonseca in the eighth and he had pitched two days in a row already.  I think I would have tried to avoid pitching Madson three days in a row, but the fact that Gordon didn't enter the game seems telling again.  Twice in two days Manuel makes a move that suggests he would rather have rookie lefty Mike Zagurski than Flash pitching to a right-handed batter with the game on the line.  Twice it didn't work.

Zagurski returned and threw a 1-2-3 ninth.

Two of the runs were charged to Eaton, who allowed a single and a double with one out in the seventh, but the Nats scored five runs after the sixth inning and the bullpen was almost completely to blame.

The Phillies' lineup against lefty John Lannan went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Rowand (6) Burrell (7) Helms (8) Barajas.  Barajas behind the plate after Ruiz catches all 14 innings Wednesday night.  Helms plays third against the lefty.  Lannan was
making his major-league debut.

Rollins started the first with an infield single and went to second on a walk by Victorino.  Utley was next and he singled into right, scoring Rollins to cut the Washington lead to 2-1.  Victorino went to second.  The Phils couldn't get any more, though, Howard struck out
and Rowand hit into a double-play.

Burrell singled to lead off the second.  Helms and Barajas both hit fly balls fairly deep to right for the first two outs and Eaton grounded to third to leave Burrell stranded.

Rollins led off the third and grounded out on a ball hit back to the pitcher.  Victorino was next and smashed a ball right back to Lannan, but Lannan made the play and threw Victorino out at first for the second out.  Utley followed with a single and Howard pounded a ball out to center for a two-run homer that put the Phils up 3-2.  Rowand flew to right for the third out.

Burrell and Helms grounded out to start the fourth, but Barajas followed with a walk and Eaton moved him to second with a single to right.  It put men on first and second with two down for Rollins, who grounded to third to end the inning.

Victorino grounded to second for the first out of the inning in the fifth.  Lannan hit Utley on the hand and Howard in the back and was ejected.  Acta argued and was ejected as well.  Howard was pretty happy after he smashed the ball out to win the game on Wednesday and had already homered in this game, but I have trouble feeling like Lannan was throwing at those guys in the fifth inning after the Nats used eight pitchers in Wednesday's game.  Utley stayed in the game, but his injury proved to be far more serious than it originally appeared.  Rowand was next and hit a ground ball to third that should have been an inning-ending double-play but Zimmerman rushed it.  He bobbled, then threw to first but Rowand beat it out, loading the bases with one out for Burrell.  Burrell singled into center.  Utley and Howard both scored and the Phils led 5-2.  Rowand went to second.  Helms was next and flew to right for the second out.  Barajas popped to first for the third out.

Victorino singled with two outs in the sixth and stole second, but Utley struck out to end the inning.

Burrell doubled with two outs in the left and the Nationals walked Helms intentionally to pitch to Barajas.  Intentionally walking Helms to pitch to Barajas seems pretty odd to me.  With men on first and second and two outs, Dobbs hit for Barajas and struck out to end the inning.

Down 7-5 in the eighth, Victorino singled with two outs.  It brought up Utley as the tying run, but Utley flew to left for the third out.  Utley, who we now know was playing with a broken hand, hit the ball to the warning track the opposite way.

In the ninth, Howard got ahead of closer Chad Cordero 3-0 before he grounded to second on the 3-1 pitch.  Rowand was next and he singled into left.  Bourn followed and chopped one back up the middle for a single that sent Rowand to third.  Coste pinch-hit for Zagurski and Bourn stole second as Coste swung and missed strike one.  Coste hit a ground ball to third.  Zimmerman threw Coste out at first as Bourn went to third and Rowand scored to cut the Washington lead to 7-6.  Cordero walked Ruiz on four pitches, bringing up Nunez with men on first and third and two outs.  Nunez grounded to second to end the game.  Any list of the Phillies' hitters you would want to face in the bottom of the ninth with the game on the line would be sure to include Nunez and Bourn.

Rollins was 1-for-5.  3-for-16 with a triple and a home run in the series.  287/332/526 on the season.

Victorino was 2-for-4.  4-for-15 with a double in the series.   283/348/431.

Utley was 2-for-4 with an RBI.  3-for-10 in the series.  336/414/581.

Howard was 1-for-4 with a two-run homer.  3-for-13 with two home runs in the series.  277/403/617.

Rowand was 1-for-5.  6-for-15 with three doubles and a home run in the series.  328/396/525.

Burrell was 3-for-4 with a double and two RBI.  5-for-7 with four walks in the series and on the bench for all the late-inning action.  249/408/438.  Bourn was 1-for-1 yesterday and 1-for-2 in the series.  274/355/400.  Burrell should have been on the field a lot more than he was.

Helms was 0-for-3 with a walk.  1-for-8 in the series.  255/311/368.  Dobbs was 0-for-1 yesterday and 2-for-7 in the series.   294/321/498.   Here's hoping we see a lot of Dobbs at second over the next few weeks if the other choices are Nunez or Joe Thurston.

Barajas was 0-for-2 with a walk yesterday in his only action of the series.  209/341/374.  Ruiz was 1-for-8 with a double in the series.  258/318/382.  Coste was 0-for-2 with an RBI in the series and is hitting 308/325/385.

Nunez was 0-for-2 yesterday.  0-for-2 with a walk in the series.  256/316/311 on the season.

Here's hoping the Phils weren't counting on a motivational speech from Manuel to help them come out strong after the loss of Utley.  I mean, what the hell?  The Phils can either keep playing or use the injury as an excuse to fold.  Early returns aren't so good.  I'm hoping to hear Rollins, Rowand and Howard firing off some tough-break-but-we'll-be-fine-ers soon if Manuel isn't going to do it.

Jamie Moyer (8-8, 5.01) faces righty John Van Benschoten (0-4, 8.17) tonight as the Pirates come to town for the first of three.  Moyer has gone 1-3 with an 8.75 ERA in his four starts in July.  Opponents are hitting .347 against him this month and he's allowed at least
four runs in each of his four starts.  Van Benschoten has made six starts for the Pirates this season, his last two times out he's allowed 14 earned runs in 4 2/3 innings (27.03 ERA) on 13 hits and five walks.  He's allowed only one home run on the season but 28 hits and 17 walks in 25 1/3 innings.  The 27-year-old has never faced the Phillies.

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