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Archive for August, 2009

Phillies Edge Braves on Ruiz’s 2 Run Double

Monday, August 31st, 2009

          Carlos Ruiz    Joe Blanton

Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz, who has come up with a number of clutch hits recently, broke up a 1-1 pitching duel between Joe Blanton and Atlanta starter Jair Jurrjens on Sunday with a 2 run double to leftfield which barely eluded the grasp of leftfielder Garret Anderson. With help from lefthanded reliever Scott Eyre and from closer Brad Lidge, who threw a 12 pitch clean ninth inning, the Phillies edged the Braves by a 3-2 score on Ruiz’s 2 run double to take 2 of the 3 games in their series.

With the win, the Phils upped their lead back to 8 games in the NL East division over both Atlanta and the Florida Marlins.  Florida, meanwhile, beat San Diego to tie the Braves for 2d place.  The Mets stayed 17 1.2 games back in 4th place by salvaging a game from the Chicago Cubs in what had been a brutal series for the Mets.

Through the first 6 1/2 innings, Blanton and Jurrjens almost matched each other pitch-for-pitch as neither team could plate runs other than Braves’ 2nd baseman Martin Prado’s 1 out first inning solo homer and 2nd baseman Chase Utley’s fourth inning 1 out game-tying solo homer to rightfield.  Despite Blanton’s 4 walks, the Braves couldn’t string together a threat or plate runs.  Blanton turned in another strong performance going seven innings and allowing only 3 hits, one of them, Prado’s first inning homer.

The Phillies had the game’s biggest threat in the fifth inning loading the bases on a walk and 2 singles.  Ruiz, who was a perfect at the plate for the game, singled in the inning but was doubled off of 1st base on Blanton’s line drive to Braves’ 1st baseman Adam LaRoche to put a damper on the threat.  Shortstop Jimmy Rollins followed grounding out to 2nd base to end the inning.

The AP game recap for Yahoo sports captures the final 2 1/2 innings:

Due to a lack of run support, ….it looked like more of the same Sunday night until the seventh inning when Ruiz broke a 1-1 tie with a two-run double to left.

The ball glanced off the end of the glove of Braves left fielder Garret Anderson before caroming to the wall, scoring  Raul Ibanez and Pedro Feliz. Ruiz finished 3 for 3 with two doubles…

“That seventh got crazy,” Braves manager Bobby Cox said. “We were playing Ruiz the other way. We almost made the catch.”

Atlanta got a run back in the eighth on Chipper Jones’ RBI single, but Scott Eyre came on in relief of Ryan Madson and got out of a two-on, no-out jam.  Brian McCann grounded into a double play and Anderson grounded out to second.

Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins made a smart decision on the double play, taking the relay from second baseman Chase Utley and throwing to third to force out Martin Prado. It was a stellar defensive night for Rollins, who opened the game with a diving catch off Matt Diaz’s liner and made a strong play later in the frame on a liner up the middle by  Yunel Escobar.

Blanton (9-6) allowed one run on three hits in seven innings, making it 12 straight starts he has allowed three earned runs or less.

Jurrjens (10-9) made it 21 of 28 starts in which he’s allowing two earned runs or less. But the Braves couldn’t muster enough offense for the right-hander, who has seen that trend repeat itself this season. Jurrjens pitched seven innings, allowing three runs—two earned—on seven hits while striking out two and walking two.

Brad Lidge pitched a scoreless ninth for his 27th save.

For the scores of all of Sunday’s games, click here.

The Phillies get a much needed Monday off before beginning an important 3 game series hosting the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday through Thursday. 

The Giants may not end up as the NL Wild Card team, but they unquestionably have one of the better starting rotations in the NL which is why it was soo important for the Phils to take their series with the Braves.  The opener is a battle of lefthanders as Cole Hamels is opposed by  Jonathan Sanchez who earlier in the season was 1 error from a perfect game.  In Wednesday’s game 2, lefthanded rookie-of-the-year candidate  J.A. Happ faces CY Young Award candidate Tim Lincecum.  In Thursday’s final Pedro Martinez (provided there is no lengthy rain delay) is opposed by lefthander Barry Zito who has pitched well consistently since All Star break but fell victim in 4 games to lack of offensive support.

For all of Monday’s and Tuesday’s games, click here and here. 

Braves Hit 4 Homers to Batter Lee, Phillies

Sunday, August 30th, 2009

Atlanta starter Derek Lowe went 5 2/3 innings on Saturday giving up 1 run on 8 hits to gain his 13th win as the Braves pummelled Phillies ace lefthander Cliff Lee for 3 homers for 6 runs on 10 hits in 5 innings.  Atlanta pounded a 4th homer in the sixth during a 3 run pounding of reliever  Chad Durbin as the Braves hit 4 homers to batter Lee and the Phillies by a 9-1 score in game 2 of their 3 game series.

With the loss, the Phils dropped a game of their NL East Division lead over the 2nd place Braves who now trail by 7 games.  The Florida Marlins, who lost again to San Diego on Saturday, remain 8 games back in 3rd place.  The  Mets, who were again pounded by the Chicago Cubs, remained 17 1/2 games back in 4th place.

The Phils took a brief 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning as 2nd baseman Chase Utley reached Lowe for a 2 out solo homer, his 28th dinger of the season.   It would be the only run the Phils would score in the game.  Utley went 3 for 4 as the offense collected 11 hits but continued struggling futilely to drive in runners on base — they left 11 runners stranded.

The offense was as ugly as the pitching, although, with the kind of start Cliff Lee has had in Philly, one would almost expect an off-game at some point.

The AP game recap for Yahoo sports included reactions from both Lee and Manager Charlie Manuel to the game: 

“I went to watch every hit I gave up and basically all night they were right down the middle,” Lee said. “I got ahead and didn’t walk anybody and was in position to put guys away but I didn’t do it. I’ve got to do a better job of keeping the ball down. They’re a very good hitting ballclub and they didn’t miss any of them.”

“He had an off night,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “He got the ball up on the left-handed hitters. The way he’s been pitching you figure sooner or later he’s going to have a tough night.”

Garret Anderson hit a three-run homer off the Phillies’ new ace…

Matt Diaz and Yunel Escobar also homered off Lee, who had been practically unhittable for the NL East-leading Phillies entering Saturday night. He entered with an ERA of 0.68 and had surrendered just 24 hits and six runs, three earned, in 40 innings while holding opponents to a .175 average.

“He made more mistakes than he’s been making,” Diaz said. “I watched film and he missed five spots in two games. I think he would tell you he didn’t hit his spots tonight.”

After three scoreless innings, Anderson gave Atlanta a 3-1 lead in the fourth with his three-run shot to right. Four batters later, Diaz hit a two-out, two-run homer.

In the next inning, Yunel Escobar homered to deep left to make it 6-1.

Prior to the Braves’ power surge, Lee hadn’t allowed a homer in 43 innings since being traded to Philadelphia. The three homers he gave up Saturday were the most allowed in a game this season by Lee, who had surrendered just 10 in 192 innings entering Saturday. He left after giving up 10 hits and six runs in five innings.

Derek Lowe (13-9) scattered eight hits in 5 2-3 innings, striking out five, to improve to 6-1 lifetime against the Phillies and 4-0 at Citizens Bank Park.

The Braves plated 3 insurance runs in the sixth inning against reliever Chad Durbin on an RBI single by infielder Martin Prado and a 2 run shot by 3rd baseman Chipper Jones.

Reliever Tyler Walker finished out the final 2 innings of the game holding the Braves to 2 hits while striking out 2.  The only walk of the game was issued by Durbin in the sixth.

The Phils were retired in order in the eighth and ninth innings by the Braves bullpen.

Lee threw 93 pitches in 5 innings giving up the 6 runs, on 3 homers, on 10 hits.  He struck out 5.  Lowe threw 113 pitches in 5 2/3 innings
giving up only Utley’s solo homer and 8 hits while also striking out 5.

For the scores of all of Saturday’s games, click here.

In Sunday’s series final Joe Blanton, whose pitching continues to be solid, is opposed by Jair Jurrjens.  The Phillies really need a win in the final to take 2 of 3 in the series and set some momentum for the week.

The Phillies get a much needed Monday off before beginning a 3 game series hosting the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday through Thursday.

For all of Sunday’s games, click here.  

Howard, Moyer Lead Phillies Past Braves

Saturday, August 29th, 2009

      Pedro Martinez   Ryan Howard   Jamie Moyer

Phillies starter Pedro Martinez threw 1 hit, 1 walk ball through 2 innings on Friday and 1st baseman Ryan Howard slammed a hole through the rain-drops for a 2nd inning lead off solo homer off of Atlanta starter Tom Hanson before the game was delayed for over 1 3/4 hours with the Phils up by 1-0.  When the rains subsided, Martinez was replaced by the emerging rain-delay specialist veteran lefthander Jamie Moyer.  Howard belted a 2nd homer, a 2 run shot off of reliever Kris Medlen in the fourth. Moyer coughed up a run on 4 hits in 4 1/3 innings and Chan Ho Park finished out the seventh inning as the Phils held a 3-1 lead.  The Phillies scored an insurance run in their seventh inning and reliever Ryan Madson gave up a run on a fielder’s choice before getting into a 2 out bases loaded jam in the eighth and escaping with a flyout.   Closer Brad Lidge came on in the ninth making short work of the Braves as Howard and Moyer led the Phillies past the Braves by a 4-2 score in the series opener.

With the win, the Phils upped their NL East Division lead to 8 games over both the Braves as well as the Florida Marlins, who lost on Friday to San Diego.  The Braves and Marlins are tied for 2nd place.  The Mets, who were pounded by the Chicago Cubs, dropped to 17 1/2 games back in 4th place.

A couple of interesting phenomena have begun to emerge with this game.
For the second straight time a Pedro Martinez start was rain-shortened with the Phillies’ Mr. Father-Time Jamie Moyer spelling him successfully after the delay to earn a win.  This time, Moyer gave threw 61 pitches in 4 1/3 innings while striking out 5.  Further, Moyer has shaved .35 off of his ERA in 10 1/3 innings of 1 run ball through the 2 games.  In the 2 rain-delay-induced appearances, Moyer has yet to walk a hitter or give up a homer.

The AP recap of the game reported the 2nd phenomenon; that closer Brad Lidge arrived at Citizens’ Bank Park sporting a new ‘doo:

Lidge arrived… with a “military” style haircut, a developing trend among the relievers, and said he hoped it would change his fortunes.

“Nothing like a fresh haircut to get you on a good run and hopefully bring you luck,” Lidge said. “I haven’t been thrilled with the way my season has gone, but the great thing is we have such a good team where we’re in first place. The consistency hasn’t been there. We all know we have to be at our best by the time the playoffs roll around. I feel like I’m very close.”

Let’s see if the ‘doo works.  On Friday, it was Lidge 12 pitches; 2 ground balls, a strikeout and game over.

Phillies Nation’s Amanda Orr recaps the game from after the rain delay:

Rain continued to fall throughout the evening, but not enough to pause play.  Out of the bullpen, Moyer did his job.  He pitched 4.1 innings, allowing one run on Matt Diaz’s RBI double.  He gave up four hits and struck out five…

Howard (3-for-3) homered again, his 37th of the year. This time it was a two-run shot to center field.  Pedro Feliz added a RBI bloop single in the seventh inning.  With a 4-1 lead, Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge would have to close it out.

Ryan Madson got into a jam.  He surrendered one run after allowing three hits and a walk.  Adam LaRoche flied out for the final out of the inning, and the birthday boy escaped the bases loaded threat.  There was only hope that Lidge would not blow his Major League leading tenth blown save.

With two quick outs, Lidge fell behind 2-0 to Diaz.  He came back firing.  Diaz chased the 2-2 slider, ending the game.  Lidge secured his 26th save of the year.  The win over the Braves extended the Phillies lead in the division to eight games.

Braves starter Hanson, who pitched 2 innings before the rains came giving up a run on 2 hits while striking out 4, was charged with the loss.  He, like Martinez, was pulled when play resumed as 4 relievers finished out the game for the Braves with Medlen giving up Howard’s 2 run fourth inning shot with 2nd baseman Chase Utley aboard.  The 4th Phillies run scored off of Peter Moylan in the seventh as 3rd baseman Pedro Feliz singled driving in leftfielder Raul Ibanez who led off the inning with a triple to deep centerfield.

For the scores of all of Friday’s games, click here.

On Saturday, the Phils look to go 2-up in the series as ace lefthander Cliff Lee hopes to continue his undefeated string since joining the Phils.  Lee is opposed by Derek Lowe who has been pounded in his last 2 outings.

For all of Saturday’s games, click here.

Ice-Cold Phillies Lose Final to Pirates

Friday, August 28th, 2009

Phillies rookie-of-the-year candidate lefthander J.A. Happ provided another quality start on Thursday, although being tagged for a leadoff homer on his 3rd pitch of the game by centerfielder Andrew McCutchen and for the winning 2 run homer in the eighth inning by rightfielder Garrett Jones.  1st baseman Ryan Howard plated a first inning run on a bases-loaded none-out fielder’s choice grounder and catcher Paul Bako belted a second inning 1 out solo homer but the Phils offense went into deep freeze continuing to struggle with runners on and failing to plate runners in scoring position.  They failed to capitalize 4 walks by Pittsburgh’s Charlie Morton as the ice-cold Phillies lost their final to Pirates by a 3-2 score.

Having lost 2 of their 3 games with the Pirates, the Phils remained 7 games up in the NL East race as Atlanta and Florida jockey back and forth and are currently tied for 2nd place.  Atlanta nipped San Diego on Thursday while Florida was pounded by the Mets who are 16 1/2 games back in fourth place. 

While Happ gave up more than 2 runs for the first time in 6 starts, only one Buc reached 3rd and, only once in the game did the Pirates put 2 men on.  Happ was aided by good defense and 2 doubleplays.  The bottomline is, despite the AP game recap which demeaned Happ’s effort:

J.A. Happ looked like a rookie on the key pitch of the game and Garrett Jones didn’t

you cannot expect to win consistently without offensive support and the Phils’ offense has huffed and puffed but, aside from homers, has been unable to produce runs with men on throughout the series.  Even the best pitchers make an occasional mistake.  For the record, Happ has coughed up but 4 homers in his last 63 innings.

The AP recap noted further regarding Garrett Jones:

Jones has been quite a find for the Pirates after being cast off by the  Twins, hitting .291 while anchoring the middle of the order…  His 15 homers lead NL rookies and his 11 homers in July topped all major leaguers.

McCutchen’s leadoff homer was his 2nd homer of the series and Jones’ game-winning eighth inning homer was his 4th dinger against the Phils, the other 3 coming, 1 per game, in the 3 games series in Philadelphia in July just before All Star break.

Phillies Nations’ Amanda Orr describes a couple of Thusday’s Phillies’ missed scoring opportunities:

The Phillies had an excellent opportunity to knock around Charlie Morton right from the chute. The Phillies only had one run to show in a bases loaded, nobody out situation.  Ryan Howard’s RBI ground out put the Phillies on the board, but Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez each popped out to end the threat.  The Phillies added another run in the second inning on Paul Bako’s (2-2, 2 BB) homer.

With a struggling closer in Matt Capps, the Phillies had an opportunity to take the lead in the top of the ninth.  Matt Stairs represented the go-ahead run, but he’d have to snap an 0-for-24 streak. The last time he had gotten a hit was on July 11, when he homered against Capps.  It wasn’t meant to be, because although he swung for the fences, he struck out.

Jimmy Rollins grounded out to end the game….  When the Phillies bats are hot, they’re on fire.  When they’re cold, they’re frozen.  The offense has been very streaky and they’ve become too reliant on the home run. 

Expecting to sweep, the Phillies learned they can not take the Pirates lightly. With the 3-2 loss, the Phillies now have a record of 9-13 at PNC Park since 2002.  The Phillies have a history of falling to bad teams, but they still have a comfortable lead in the division.

PhillyNews.com’s David Murphy adds these comments on the loss:

History will hang the the Phillies’ 3-2 loss to the Pirates last night around the neck of rookie lefthander J.A. Happ, who surrendered a go-ahead two-run home run to Garrett Jones in the eighth inning.

But history - at least in the form of baseball box scores - can be misleading. For while Happ may have lost the battle of the Rookie of the Year candidates, allowing Jones and fellow first-year star Andrew McCutchen to blast home all three of the Pirates’ runs, the war might have been lost in the first inning, when the Phillies converted a bases-loaded, no-out situation against previously unimpressive righthander Charlie Morton into just one run.

“We didn’t hit,” manager Charlie Manuel said. “We let him get away there in the first inning . . . We didn’t hit him.”

Happ’s line for the game; eight innings, 114 pitches, 3 runs (on the 2 homers), 7 hits, 2 walks and 6 strikeouts.  Opposing starter Charlie Morton pitched 5 innings throwing 106 pitches and didn’t figure in the final decision.  Pirates reliever Denny Bautista shut down the Phils in 2 perfect innings while striking out 2.  Clsoer Matt Capps was awarded the win for shutting down the Phillies on 1 hit in the ninth inning.

For the scores of all of Thursday’s games, click here.

The Phils return home Friday for a 3 game series against the Atlanta Braves.  In Friday’s opener, Pedro Martinez opposes Tom Hanson who has won 5 of his last 7 starts.  On Saturday, ace lefthander Cliff Lee hopes to continue his undefeated string since joining the Phils.  Lee is opposed by  Derek Lowe who has been pounded in his last 2 outings.

For all of Friday’s and Saturday’s games, click here and  here.

Phillies Beat Pirates in 10 Innings on Howard’s Homer

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

 Cole Hamels    Chase Utley   Ryan Howard   Ryan Madson

Lefthander Cole Hamels pitched eight gritty shutout innings in dueling with fellow lefty, Pittsburgh’s Pat Maholm, on Wednesday and got a big fat no-decision for his trouble.  With the Phillies holding a 1-0 lead on 2nd baseman Chase Utley’s first inning solo homer, reliever Ryan Madson came on in the ninth and gave up a 1 out, game-tying homer to pinch hitter Brandon Moss.  1st baseman Ryan Howard broke up the tie in the tenth with a 1st pitch 3 run bomb to rightfield as the Phillies beat the Pirates in 10 innings by a 4-1 score on Howard’s homer.

With the win, the Phillies stayed 7 games up on 2nd place Florida in the NL East divsion race.  Atlanta dropped to 3rd place after being routed by San Diego.  Florida nipped the 4th place Mets who dropped to 17 1/2 games back in the division.

I find it interesting how the AP game recap for Yahoo sports relegated Hamels’ performance to the 8th paragraph, roughly half way through the recap, not even close to doing justice to how worked out of jams in the second, fourth and seventh innings, went clean on the Pirates in two innings and allowed singe base-runners in three other innings.  He gave up 7 hits while walking 2 and striking out 7 while clinging to the early 1-0 Phillies lead resulting from Utley’s first inning solo shot to centerfield.

All of that went for naught as the Phillies provided him with zero offensive support.  And hey, your reliever is entitled to one mistake with the bases empty which Ryan Madson accomodated by coughing up pinch hitter Moss’s 1 out homer in the ninth.  Madson ended up the game-winner (5-4) thanks to Howard’s 3 run shot in the 10th.

A game like this really brings back memories; Elroy Face who, in 1958 and 1959, made a living out of blowing ballgames only to have the Pirates come back to win on his book.  He was 0-2 in 1958 before knotching 22 relief wins without a loss through the ‘58 and ‘59 seasons before finally being on the hook for a loss late in ‘59.   In ‘58 he went 5-2 and in ‘59, 18-1.  Meanwhile, he saved 30 other games during the 2 seasons, 125 games between 1958 and 1963, 193 games over his 16 season career.

Phillies Nation’s Amanda Orr provides a recap of the Phils’ extra-inning win:

Cole Hamels finally put together a solid outing.  He pitched eight shutout innings, but did allow many base runners.  He allowed seven hits, walked two, and hit a batter.  He managed to escaped the jams without problems.  Paul Maholm pitched just as well.  In seven innings, he gave up one run on five hits.  He walked two, struck out four, and was able to get the Phillies to ground out eleven times.

With a 1-0 lead in the top of the ninth, the Phillies would have liked to add on.  With runners on second and third and nobody out, the Pirates wiggled out of a potential big inning.  Joel Hanrahan struck out Ben Francisco and Pedro Feliz.  He intentionally walked pinch hitter Raul Ibanez to get to a slumping Matt Stairs.  Stairs was ahead 3-0, but Hanrahan fought back, getting Stairs to ground out.

Brad Lidge received the day off since he pitched in four straight games.  Ryan Madson took over, and struck out  Steve Pearce to start the inning, topping at 99 mph.  A sign of relief?  Not so much.  The next batter, Brandon Moss, homered to center field, tying the game at one.  For the second day in a row, the Phillies blew a save to the Pirates.

Unlike Lidge, Madson was able to keep the game tied and give the bats, which were silent all night, a chance in the tenth.

Jimmy Rollins walked and Shane Victorino singled.  With Rollins at third, Utley hit a fly ball to center, deep enough for Rollins to score.  Holding up at third, Rollins didn’t take a chance. On the very first pitch to Ryan Howard, Rollins trotted home.  Howard hit a towering drive to right field; a three-run go-ahead home run.

Madson came back out for the bottom of the tenth.  He allowed a lead-off single, but Chase Utley ended the game by turning a fantastic double play on a ball that deflected off the mound.

The question of closer is still very much with us.  Will Brad Lidge catch fire and return to 2008’s form?  Will Brett Myers come back to recapture his form as a closer from 2007?   Or will Manager Charlie Manuel have to revert to closer-by-committee?  Check out this detailed report on closer options from Phillies Nation.

For the scores of all of Wednesday’s games, click here.

The Phils hope to win Thursday’s series final as strong rookie-of-the-year candidate lefthander J.A. Happ is opposed by Charlie Morton.

For all of Thursday’s games, click here.

Lidge Blows Another Save as Phillies Lose Opener to Pirates

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

For five innings, Joe Blanton and Ross Ohlendorf were tied up in a 2-1 pitchers duel with the Phillies leading on shortstop Jimmy Rollins’ 2 homers on the first 2 pitches he saw in the game. Then 1st baseman Steve Pearce solved Blanton for a 2 run homer in the sixth to put Pittsburgh up by 3-2.  Pinch hitter Ben Francisco and centerfielder Shane Victorino grabbed a 4-3 lead for the Phils in their ninth inning on dramatic RBI extra base hits after catcher Carlos Ruiz’s leadoff double. But closer Brad Lidge came on in the Bucs’ ninth first giving up the tying run, and then the winning ones on centerfielder Andrew McCutchen’s 2 run walk-off bomb to centerfield as  Lidge blew another save and the Phillies lost their opener to the Pirates by a 6-4 score. 

With the loss, the Phils lead in the NL East division race remained at 7 games as Florida, who edged the Mets, and Atlanta, were edged by San Diego, are tied for 2nd place.  The Mets remained 16 1/2 games back in 4th place.

In light of the growing number of Lidge’s blown saves and lost ballgames, as in Tuesday’s 7 pitch double-whammy, and the concerns his performance is causing regarding the September stretch and the post-season, one has to wonder if the Phils erred in not making a move to acquire closer Billy Wagner from the Mets.  AP sports writer Jimmy Golen reports on Yahoo sports that Wagner was traded Tuesday night to the Boston Red Sox for two players to be named later.

Phillies Nation’s Amanda Orr provides a recap on a tight game turned ugly in the Pittsburgh ninth:

On the very first pitch of the game, Jimmy Rollins’ line shot cleared the right-center field seats to put the Phillies on the board.  On the first pitch in his second at-bat, Rollins homered again.  Two pitches, two home runs.

Joe Blanton pitched a quality start; he lasted six innings allowing three earned runs.  However, all three runs came on home runs: Ryan Doumit’s solo shot and Steve Pearce’s two-run blast.  Blanton gave up six hits, walked two, and struck out seven.

Ross Olendorf was just as effective.  He pitched 6.1 innings and gave up two runs on five hits.  The Phillies were 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position and stranded eight men on base.  The Phillies trailed 3-2 heading into the top of the ninth.

[Matt] Capps had trouble in his last appearance against the Phillies.  In that game, he blew a 7-3 lead thanks to home runs by Matt Stairs and Ryan Howard.  Tonight, neither were due up in the inning, but the bottom of the order provided the damage.  Carlos Ruiz started the rally with a double.  Ben Francisco drove Ruiz home to tie the game at three.

With two outs, Shane Victorino tripled, scoring Francisco from second. In Little League, coaches stress that the first step is always back.  Center fielder Andrew McCutchen did not follow those rules and took the first step in.  It was costly. The ball sailed over his head and the go-ahead run scored.  McCutchen would get that run back… and more.

With Lidge closing, nothing is a sure thing.  Capps already blew his save, but the truth is Lidge has been worse this year.  Luis Cruz singled to start the inning against Lidge.  That was the beginning of the end.

Brandon Moss singled to right fielder, Jayson Werth.  Werth went to scoop up the ball, but bobbled it.  Pinch runner,  Brian Bixler, rounded the bases and scored from first.  Werth fired to the plate. The throw beat the runner, but was off-line so Ruiz could not apply the tag quick enough.  Tie game.  Blown save, Brad Lidge.

The next batter was McCutchen, who had a chance to redeem himself.  He did that, and more.  He hit a long drive to straight-away center field.  Victorino kept going back, but so did the baseball.  It cleared the fence for a walk-off home run.

Lidge blowing saves is becoming a re-occurring nightmare for the Phillies.  He is now 0-6 with nine blown saves and an ERA standing at 7.33.  There has to be thought as to whether Lidge’s days as a closer are numbered.  Either way, the Phillies dropped a game to the lowly, last-place Pirates, a team they must take advantage of.

Blanton’s line for the game was six innings, 113 pitches, 3 runs on 6 hits with the 2 homers accounting for the 3 runs — good enough to win had he gotten any offensive support other than from Rollins.  He walked 2 and struck out 7.  Reliever Todd Walker threw 35 pitches and scoreless seventh and eighth innings to get the game to closer time.  He walked 2 and struck out 2. 

It seems more and more obvious that the Phils must make a move for a closer.  Was letting Wagner pass a mistake?  As Brett Myers continues his rehab outings, questions abound as to whether he is the answer.  Which Myers will return to the Phillies; the Myers who went to the bullpen and saved game after game down the stretch in 2007? Or the Myers who had early trouble with pitch velocity in both 2008 and 2009?  Or the Myers who returned from a month’s stint in the minors to win 7 of 11 decisions from late July through September in 2008?  It seems plain that the Phils must come up with a plan “B” considering Lidge’s season and Myers’ on-again, off-again track record.

Ohlendorf, who went 5 2/3 innings giving up 3 runs on 5 hits in his previous outing against the Phils, matched up well against Blanton outside of the 2 pitches which Rollins nailed.  He went 6 1/3 innings throwing 100 pitches and giving up 2 runs on 5 hits while walking 3 and striking out 6.  Capps, who blew the save in the ninth and was on the hook as possible losing pitcher, ended up as the winning pitcher as a result of McCutchen’s 2 run walk-off homer.

For the scores of all of Tuesday’s games, click here.

The Phillies hope to even the series at a game apiece in Wednesday’s game 2 battle of lefthanders with Cole Hamels opposing Pat Maholm.

For all of Wednesday’s games, click here.