The Phillies faced a left-handed starting pitcher this afternoon for the first time in the post-Abreu era. Since beating Dontrelle Willis on July 29 the Phillies faced seven straight righties, going 6-1. The Phillies are going to struggle against lefties -- two of their three best hitters, Utley, Howard and Burrell, are left-handed, and David Dellucci, who has been awesome in limited time, isn't likely to see much time against southpaws regardless of how many home runs he hit against Darren Oliver last night. They weren't facing just any lefty, either. They got one of the best in the game, Tom Glavine.
They lost. It had a lot to do with a nice performance from Glavine, but even more to do with an awful half of an inning in which the Phillies had the wind knocked out of their sails and their lead erased due to an inability to make defensive plays that should have ended the inning.
The Phillies fell to the Mets this afternoon 4-3. The loss drops them to 53-56 on the season.
Jon Lieber got the start for the Phillies and pitched, but didn't field, well. I've been saying for a while now that Lieber is about to go on a tear and I've been as wrong as I can be. I still think he will -- one start does not a tear make but he was better today. Lieber threw a complete game, going eight innings and allowing four runs, just one of them earned, on six hits. He didn't walk anyone and struck out six. Two of the hits went for extra-bases, a double to Reyes to lead off the bottom of the first and another double to Endy Chavez that won the game for the Mets.
Lieber started the bottom of the first with a 3-0 lead. Jose Reyes led off the frame with a ground rule double and scored when Milledge followed with a single that made the score 3-1 Phillies. Beltran followed with a single, but Lieber got the next three to end the inning.
Lieber then threw 1-2-3 innings in the second, third, fourth and fifth.
The sixth inning was a disaster as the Phillies gave away their 3-1 lead on two terrible plays. Lieber got the first two and should have been out of the inning when Carlos Beltran hit a dribbler back to the pitcher. Lieber made a bad throw to first and Beltran was safe on the error. Delgado followed with a solid single that sent Beltran to third. Awful defensive play number two on the inning followed as Wright hit a high fly ball that dropped in-between Burrell and Rollins. Burrell should have made the play, but it scored a run and moved Delgado to third with the Phillies lead cut to 3-2. Endy Chavez followed with a two-run double that put the Mets up 4-3 before Lieber struck out Valentin to end the inning.
Lieber threw a 1-2-3 seventh and a 1-2-3 eighth.
The Phillies lineup against lefty Tom Glavine went (1) Victorino (2) Rowand (3) Rollins (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Coste (7) Nunez (8) Sandoval. Victorino plays right against the lefty in what looks like a straight right/left platoon with Dellucci. Utley rests the day after his hitting streak ends and Rollins, who started the game 19-for-51 with four homers against Glavine, takes over for him in the three-hole. Rowand moves to the two-spot, so the first three hitters in the Phillies lineup were on-basing .332, .318, and .330.
In the first, Victorino led off with a strikeout but Rowand walked and Rollins singled. Howard followed with a three-run homer, his 38th of the year and ninth off of a lefty, which put the Phillies up 3-0. Burrell popped out and Coste grounded out to end the inning.
The Phillies went 1-2-3 in the second. In the third they got a one-out double from Rowand, but stranded him when Rollins popped out and Howard flew to right.
They went 1-2-3 in the fourth. In the fifth they got a two-out double from Victorino but Rowand struck out to end the inning.
They went into the top of the sixth with a 3-1 lead. They got a one-out walk from Howard and Burrell followed with a single, but Coste grounded into an inning-ending double-play.
The Phillies went 1-2-3 in the seventh.
In the eighth, Victorino led off with a strikeout. Rowand was due up next against righty Aaron Heilman, but Manuel pinch-hit Dellucci for him. This goes in the category of new moves, but it's a good one. Dellucci flew out to right and Rollins struck out to end the inning.
Former Philly and current Philly-hater Billy Wagner came on in the ninth with a one run lead to nail it down for the Mets. Howard led off with a single and Wagner struck out Burrell for the first out of the inning. Moments in early August don't get much bigger than that for Burrell, facing his arch-nemesis after his bad defense had put the Phillies in a hole, but Pat came up empty. Wagner struck out Coste for the second out of the inning and Chase Utley pinch hit for Nunez. Utley singled, sending Howard to third (no, Roberson wouldn't have scored if he had pinch-ran), and the Phillies sent Mike Lieberthal to the plate, pinch-hitting for Sandoval. It would have been a curious bottom of the ninth defensively for the Phils if Lieberthal had tied the game. It didn't matter. Lieberthal hit it hard to third and David Wright made a nice play to get him and end the game.
Wright made a great defensive play in the ninth inning of a game on June 13 to rob Pat Burrell of extra-bases with the game on the line.
Victorino was 1-for-4 with a double.
Rowand was 1-for-2 with a double and a walk. Let's see how he reacts to being pinch-hit for by Dellucci.
Rollins was 1-for-4 with a strikeout.
Howard was 2-for-3 with a home run and drove in all three Phillies runs.
Burrell was 1-for-4 and Coste 0-for-4. Nunez 0-for-3.
Ugly game today. It should be interesting to see how the Phillies look tomorrow coming off the tough loss after playing so well of late. Scott Mathieson faces John Maine tomorrow night.