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August 2 2007

The Phillies have been on a magnificent run over the past couple of weeks, winning nine of ten at one point and getting themselves into the thick of the playoff hunt.  They are still in good position to make a run at the post-season, but, for the moment at least, the magic looks like it's gone.

The Phils lost their second-straight game last night and, for the second night in a row, looked sloppy.  An Aaron Rowand throw in the third went to the wrong base, helping the Cubs score a run they shouldn't have.  Ryan Howard made a critical base-running blunder in the fifth, making the first out of the inning at third base.  It was magnified when Rowand followed with a shot out to left.  The Phils lost the game on Brett Myers' second wild pitch of the ninth inning.

Coincidence or not, Howard has been miserable since Utley was injured on July 26, making mistakes in the field, on the bases and at the plate.  At the plate he's 4-for-22 (.182) with two doubles and 13 strikeouts since the Phls put Utley on the DL.  It's hard to feel like he's not pressing to try to make up for the loss of Utley.  Easier said than done, but somebody has got to get him to stop.

For all the great moves the Phillies had made of late, most notably the addition of Iguchi, they've also made some that don't appeal.  Roberson is not the answer in right, even in the short term, and Ruiz continues to be the nearly everyday catcher despite his .316 on-base percentage for the season.

The Phils lost to the Chicago Cubs last night, falling 5-4 to drop to 56-51 on the year.   It is the second loss in a row for the Phillies, who fall back into third place a half game behind the Braves. 

Jamie Moyer got the start for the Phillies and went five innings, allowing four runs on nine hits.  Five of the hits went for extra-bases, all doubles.  He walked two and struck out six. 

With a 1-0 lead in the second, Moyer got the first two before Derek Lee doubled to center.  Mark DeRosa followed with a walk, putting men on first and second for Matt Murton.  Murton lined a ball off the glove of a diving Rollins and into shallow left behind third.  Lee scored to tie the game at 1-1.  He probably would have had to hold third if the ball had gone into left cleanly.  Ronny Cedeno popped to second to end the inning.

Jason Kendall doubled to center with one out in the second.  Pitcher Rich Hill was next and he singled up the middle, scoring Kendall to put the Cubs up 2-1.  Alfonso Soriano moved Hill to second with another single, but Mike Fontenot hit into a double-play to end the inning.

Lee doubled again to start the third.  The next two went down behind him before Ronny Cedeno singled and Lee scored, putting the Cubs up 3-1.  Rowand, as he so often does, threw over to cutoff man to home despite having no chance to get Lee.   It allowed Cedeno to go to second and probably cost the Phillies a run.  Jacque Jones followed with a doubled popped just behind third.  Cedeno scored, but he wouldn't have from first, to make it 4-1.  Moyer walked Kendall intentionally and struck out Hill to end the inning.  Terrible decision by Rowand.

Moyer got two strikeouts in a 1-2-3 fourth.

DeRosa led off the fifth with a double down the line in left.  Moyer struck out the next two and got Jones on a line drive to center.

Alfonseca pitched the sixth and allowed a two-out single to Soriano, who stole second.  Alfonseca walked Fontenot but struck out Lee to end the inning.

Mesa pitched the seventh.  He walked Murton with one out, but got the next two.  Mesa was last charged with an earned run on July 6.  He's made ten appearances since, allowing two unearned runs on three hits and three walks. 

Romero pitched the eighth and got the first two before walking Soriano, who stole second again.  Romero walked pinch-hitter Theriot before Soriano stole third.  And then he walked Lee to load the bases for DeRosa, who popped to second to turn the Cubs away with the score tied at 4-4.

Myers started the ninth in a tie game.  Manuel hardly ever uses his closer in a tie game and again I think it speaks to the lack of confidence he has in Gordon, who has made 40 pitches in four appearances since coming off the DL on July 15.  Murton led off the inning with a fly ball to left that defensive replacement Werth nearly made a spectacular diving catch on but didn't.  It went off his glove for a double.  Murton moved to third on a wild pitch before Cedeno walked.  Myers walked the lefty Jones intentionally, loading the bases to pitch to the righty Kendall.  Myers struck out Kendall for the first out and Cliff Floyd pinch-hit for pitcher Ryan Dempster.  Myers' 0-1 pitch to Floyd was his second wild pitch of the inning.  Murton scored from third and the Cubs had won 5-4. 

This article says that Gordon did not pitch last night due to a strained shoulder.

The Phillies' lineup against lefty Rich Hill went (1) Roberson (2) Iguchi (3) Rollins (4) Howard (5) Rowand (6) Burrell (7) Ruiz (8) Nunez.  Roberson is the worst hitter in the Phils lineup, and that's saying something when they roll Ruiz and Nunez out there.  He doesn't need to be getting the most at-bats.  Nunez plays third with Moyer on the mound.  Even if you do that you could still put Helms, who hit 275/339/471 in July, in right against the lefty.  They didn't.  Wouldn't mind seeing Iguchi leading off, either, given how hot he's been since joining the Phils.

Roberson led off the first with a ball back to Hill that the pitcher threw wildly to first for an error.  Roberson wound up at second.  Iguchi did a great job of hitting the ball to the right side and it went through to right field for a single.  Roberson went to third.  Rollins was hit by a pitch to load the bases.   Howard struck out on three pitches.  Rowand struck out on four.  The 1-1 pitch to Burrell was wild, moving everybody up a base and giving the Phils a 1-0 lead as Roberson scored.  Burrell walked, but Ruiz popped to first to end the frame.  Not enough runs there, as the Phils get one out of the bases loaded and nobody out.

Nunez started the second with a single and Moyer tried to move him up with a bunt, but Nunez was thrown out at second.  Roberson and Iguchi went down behind him.

The Phils went 1-2-3 in the third.  

Burrell started the fourth with a wind-blown double center.  Ruiz flew to left for the first out, unable to move Burrell to third.  Nunez reached on an infield single that sent Burrell to third.  Moyer bunted Nunez to second, but Roberson grounded to short for the third out.

Iguchi started the fifth with a double blooped into center.  Rollins knocked him in with a single to left, cutting the Chicago lead to 4-2.  Howard doubled to right center and Rollins scored to make it 4-3.  When the relay from center wasn't handled cleanly, Howard was thrown out going to third.  Terrible play by Howard to make the first out of the inning at third base, even if Rowand doesn't follow with a home run.  He did, a solo shot.  4-4.  Burrell struck out for the second out, but Ruiz and Nunez followed with back-to-back walks.  Moyer flew to center to end the frame.

Rollins walked with one out in the sixth, but Howard struck out for the third out.

Burrell walked with one out in the seventh, but Ruiz followed and hit into a double-play.

The Phils went 1-2-3 in the eighth.  Dobbs hit for Mesa against righty Carlos Marmol for the second out.

Rollins singled with one out in the ninth and stole second as Howard struck out for the second out.  He stole third with Rowand at the plate.  Rowand went on to walk and stole second with Burrell batting, but Burrell walked to load the bases with two down for Ruiz.  Ruiz grounded to short.

Roberson was 0-for-5.  Enough, please.

Iguchi was 2-for-5 with a double.

Rollins was 2-for-3 with an RBI. 

Howard was 1-for-5 with four strikeouts and left five men on base.  Terrible play running the bases.

Rowand was 1-for-4 with a walk and his 16th home run.

Burrell was 1-for-2 and walked three times.

Ruiz was 0-for-4 with a walk and left eight men on base.  He went down with the bases loaded in the first and the ninth.  He also didn't move Burrell from second to third with nobody out in the fourth.  Too much Ruiz and it's hurting the Phils, especially given that they have at least one better option in Coste.  Ruiz has thrown out 27.6% of would-be base-stealers this season.

Nunez was 2-for-3 with a walk.

Kyle Lohse (6-12, 4.58) makes his Phillies' debut this afternoon against lefty Sean Marshall (5-4, 3.10).  Lohse last pitched against the Brewers last Wednesday and held them to a run on five hits over 5 2/3 innings.  He's made two starts against the Cubs this season and been very good, going 1-0 with a 1.26 ERA in 14 1/3 innings while striking out 15.   Aramis Ramirez is 3-for-3 against his this season with a double.  Ryan Theriot 3-for-4 with three singles.  Soriano and Lee have combined to go 3-for-13 with five strikeouts.  Lefty Sean Marshall has made 12 starts for the Cubs this season.  He turns 25 later this month.  He's allowed just 65 hits in 69 2/3 innings but walked 22.  He hasn't allowed more than two runs in a start in any of his last four outings.

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