Phils' series win dampened by 'pen meltdowns
LOS ANGELES – In ordinary times, winning four out of six games out west would be considered a successful trip for the Phillies.
But these ceased being ordinary times when the Phils limped into the all-star break at 37-50 and in last place in the National League East.
To save their season, they need to win just about every series they play in the second half. And they need to sweep some of those series, too.
That’s why Wednesday afternoon’s 5-3 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers hurt so badly (see Instant Replay)
. They were one out away from sweeping the Dodgers and ended up losing in the bottom of the 12th inning.
“That’s a tough loss,” a drained Charlie Manuel said afterward. “Real tough.”
Closer Jonathan Papelbon used the same word.
“Tough,” he said. “Should we have swept these guys? Yeah.”
Papelbon failed to convert what would have been his third save of the series when he allowed four hits and two runs in the bottom of the 10th, moments after the Phillies had gone up, 3-1, on a two-run single by Hunter Pence in the top of the inning.
One of the hits that Papelbon allowed was a blooper down the left-field line. Another was an infield nubber that traveled about 30 feet. The game-tying hit was a ground ball in the hole at shortstop. Jimmy Rollins made a nice play on the ball, but Matt Kemp beat it by a quarter-step and the tying run scored.
Two innings later, Kemp took rookie lefty Jake Diekman deep with a man on base to give the Dodgers the win four hours and 25 minutes after Clayton Kershaw threw the first pitch in his impressive pitchers' duel with Cliff Lee. Both lefties went eight innings and allowed just one run.
Papelbon, who has blown three of 24 save chances, chalked some of this one up to bad luck.
“It’s one of those outings where you really can’t do much about it,” he said. “For the most part I feel like I made the pitches I wanted to make. Swinging bunts and bloop hits and infield hits and stuff like that -- you can’t do much about them. It’s just part of the game.”
The Phillies have played 10 extra-innings games and lost eight of them. Lee has started seven of those games and taken a no-decision in all. For Lee, this game was reminiscent of April 18 when he pitched 10 scoreless innings up the coast in San Francisco and got nothing to show for it in a 1-0 loss.
“It is what it is,” said Lee, who has just one win in 16 starts. “I can only control what I can control. I felt like I pitched a good game. I made a mistake in the second inning. Other than that things went well.”
The mistake that Lee referred to was hit out of the park by Juan Rivera. The ball clanged off the top of the left-field wall before leaving. Leftfielder John Mayberry, who stands 6-foot-6, might have taken the homer away from Rivera, but he ran into the wall and did not jump.
“I think I would have had it if I jumped,” Mayberry said. “I misjudged kind of how much space I had.”
Lee gave up just two hits and walked one.
Manuel managed this game like Tony La Russa, playing matchups with his bullpen in the ninth inning and getting a bases-loaded strikeout from Michael Schwimer to end the frame. Manuel used four relievers in the inning, a sign of the urgency that has gripped this team 13 days before the trade deadline.
The Phils need wins – and quickly – or upper management may sell off pieces before the trade deadline. Shane Victorino is a candidate to go and Lee could be, too. The Rangers, looking for pitching and a World Series title, parachuted a scout in for Wednesday’s game. He may have been looking at Lee, who could be available in the right deal.
“I was managing to win the game,” Manuel said of his ninth-inning method.
“It was there for us. We just didn’t take it.”
Actually, the Phils did take it on Pence’s hit in the top of the 10th. Papelbon just gave it back in the bottom of the inning.
The difficulty of the loss made it hard to absorb the fact that the Phils did take two of three from both teams that they played on the trip. Doing that the rest of the way will give the Phils 87 wins and a puncher’s chance at the second wild-card spot – if they can pull off a sweep or two on top of it all.
“We’ve got to look at the bigger picture, realize we came on the road and took two series right after the break,” Papelbon said. “This is the kind of start that we need.
“If we say coulda, woulda, shoulda – that’s not going to work. We need to go home and win some ball games.”E-mail Jim Salisbury at email@example.com