1st baseman Ryan Howard’s 2 out first inning double off of Giants’ lefthander Jonathan Sanchez drove in 2nd baseman Chase Utley to give the Phillies an early 1-0 lead. But the lead didn’t last long as Rodrigo Lopez suffered through his worst performance with the Phils whose defense suffered through it’s most horrid game in memory on Thursday. The offense provided no production leaving 5 runners in scoring position stranded while San Francisco’s 3rd baseman Pablo Sandoval had a big game going 2 for 4 with a homer, a double and 4 RBIs as the Giants pounded Lopez and the Phillies by a 7-2 score in their series opener.
With the loss, the Phils’ 2nd straight, their lead in the NL East division over the 2nd place Florida Marlins dropped to 6 games, with Atlanta in 3rd place at 7 games back. The 4th place Mets, who split a doubleheader with the Colorado Rockies, are now 9 1/2 games back.
Lopez allowed seven runs, three earned, in four innings. In the first, the Phillies had a 1-0 lead, but the Giants went ahead 2-1 in the bottom half of the inning. Jayson Werth misjudged a line drive, and that opened the gates.
In the fourth inning, [3rd baseman] Pedro Feliz made a throwing error which led to two runs. At the last second, Feliz decided to go for the force out at second base instead of the easy play at first. Assuming Feliz was throwing to first, Chase Utley was off the bag and the ball tipped his glove, scooting to right field.
Pablo Sandoval must have been very unhappy with Charlie Manuel’s All Star selections. He showed Manuel what he missed. He went 2-for-4 with a home run and four runs batted in.
The Phillies weren’t able to provide any offense other than Ryan Howard’s RBI double and Utley’s [sixth inning] solo homer. Sanchez threw a pitch that sailed over Utley’s head. Utely clearly had a problem with it and stared him down. On the next pitch he called time before he homered down the right field line.
If there were any plusses in this game, one of them had to be the Phils’ bullpen where both relievers Kyle Kendrick, just called up from Triple A to the club roster, and Tyler Walker both threw 2 inning scoreless stints in relief of Lopez.
Centerfielder Shane Victorino, still hampered by swelling from a bruised left knee sustained in Wednesday’s loss, had the night off. Outfielder Ben Francisco, acquired in the same deal as lefthander Cliff Lee, started in centerfield and went 1 for 4 as Victorino rested.
AP Sports Writer Janie McCauley reports on the Phillies’ sixth inning threat resulting in starter Sanchez’s removal:
Sanchez left to a roaring standing ovation when replaced by Justin Miller following a two-out walk to Raul Ibanez in the sixth. Francisco followed with his first hit with the Phillies, a double. It was the first decision for Sanchez in six career career appearances against Philadelphia.
Losing pitcher Lopez’s line was four innings, 72 pitches, 7 runs (only 3 earned), 8 hits, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts and Sandoval’s third inning homer.
For the scores of all of Thursday’s games, click here.
As expected, lefthander Cliff Lee has bumped Joe Blanton as the starter for the Phillies on Friday against the Giants opposing 26 year old Ryan Sadowski in game 2 as the Phils hope to even the series at a game apiece.
Blanton’s start is pushed back to Saturday when he will oppose Giant ace Tim Lincecum.