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August 9 2006

I expect the seventh-inning stretch wasn't much of a hoot in Atlanta this afternoon -- it was about a bazillion degrees and things didn't go real well in the top of the inning.  After Chuck James chucked six strong frames and left with a 3-1 lead, the Phillies pounded four Braves relievers for an eight-run seventh inning on their way to a 9-3 victory.

The win improves the Phillies record to 55-58 on the year.   

Randy Wolf got the start for the Phillies and had the best of his three starts since his return from Tommy John surgery.  He went 5 1/3 innings, allowing three runs on five hits and two walks.  Only two of the runs were earned and he struck out four.  One hit went for extra-bases, a home run to Andruw Jones.  Phillies starters have gone more than six innings just once in the last six games. 

Wolf allowed just one hit, a two-out single to Matt Diaz, through the first three innings.

Willy Aybar led off the bottom of the fourth with a single in a scoreless tie and was thrown out trying to go to second when the ball got away from Lieberthal.  Diaz had tried to steal and was cut down by Lieberthal in the second.  Wolf set the next two down to end the inning.

Andruw Jones led off the bottom of the fifth with a home run that put the Braves up 1-0.  Wolf got Francoeur for the first out of the inning but walked the next two before striking out Thorman and Chuck James to end the inning. 

The Phillies tied the game 1-1 in the top of the sixth.  Wolf returned for the bottom of the inning and Aybar led off with a single.  He got Giles to pop to second for the first out of the inning but Renteria singled, sending Aybar to second.  With righty and Phillies-killer Andruw Jones at the plate, the Phils brought in Rick White.  White got Jones to fly to right for the second out of the inning, with Aybar moving to third.  Francoeur was up next and White got ahead of him 0-2 before Francoeur put the Braves up 2-1 with a single to right that sent Renteria to third.  Diaz followed with a ground ball to third, which Nunez bobbled and recovered to throw to first, but not in time to get Diaz.  Renteria scored from third and it was 3-1 Atlanta.  White finally struck out Pratt to end the inning.

One thing you hear often about Nunez these days is that he's struggling with the bat but has been solid with the glove.  If only it were so.  The Phillies amazingly got rid of Bell, who was one of the worst everyday players in all of baseball last year with a 671 OPS, and somehow replaced him with someone worse.  That's creative but hard to do.  I'd love to see them try someone else in place of Nunez but I worry about who could be next. 
Joe Schlabotnik?

Ryan Madson threw a 1-2-3 seventh with a 9-3 lead.  He returned for the bottom of the eighth gave up a leadoff single to Marcus Giles.  Renteria followed with a double, sending Giles to third.  Andruw Jones followed and hit a ball hard back to Madson -- it bounced off his body and he caught it in the air before throwing to second to double off Renteria.  Francoeur followed with a fly to left that ended the inning.

Brain Sanches came in for the ninth.  He got the first two before allowing a double to Thorman and getting Langerhans to end the game.

The Phillies lineup against lefty Chuck James went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Rowand (7) Lieberthal (8) Nunez.  Rowand is back in the six-spot after hitting seventh last night against the righty Hudson.

Jimmy Rollins led off the first with a single and later stole second but was stranded as Victorino, Utley and Howard went in order. 

In the second, Rowand was hit by a pitch with one out but was left at second when Lieberthal and Nunez both struck out.  Rowand did steal second in the inning, the second stolen base the Phillies had managed against the slopballer James in two innings.

Victorino singled with two outs in the third but he didn't even get to try to steal second.  Utley flew out to end the inning.  They went 1-2-3 in the fourth.

In the fifth the Phillies got back-to-back two-out singles from Wolf and Rollins, but Victorino struck out to end the inning.

With two outs in the sixth Burrell hit his 23rd home run of the year to tie the game at 1-1. 

In the seventh, Lieberthal led off with a walk and Nunez followed with a single.  With Rick White due up, Manuel called on his bench and sent Chris Roberson to bunt, which he did successfully, giving the Phillies runners on second and third with one out and Rollins up.  Rollins walked on four pitches to load the bases.  Victorino followed with another walk, driving in a run to make it 3-2 with the bases still loaded and just one out.  The Braves called on lefty Macay McBride to pitch to Utley and Chase smoked a three-run double to put the Phillies up 5-3.  Utley's magic wasn't done, however.  Howard followed with a ground ball to back to the pitcher and Utley never stopped running, scoring from second to put the Phils up 6-3.  McBride was a little slow getting the ball to first, and Thorman a little slow as well, but Utley made the play.  Burrell and Rowand both followed with singles and, with two outs, Lieberthal hit a ball to third that Aybar couldn't handle for an error,  scoring Burrell to make it 7-3.  Nunez followed with a single and Rowand scored from third to put the Phillies up 8-3.  Roberson followed with yet another hit, a single, which loaded the bases for Rollins with two out.  Rollins walked.  9-3.  Victorino finally struck out to end the inning.

In the eight-run seventh inning the Phillies got six hits and four walks off of four Braves pitchers. 

Utley and Howard led off the eighth with singles.  Madson followed, hitting in Burrell's spot when Roberson took over for Burrell in left in the bottom of the seventh, and grounded out to first.  Rowand followed with a ground out to shortstop, but Lieberthal walked, loading the bases for Nunez.  Nunez grounded out to second to end the inning.

The Phillies went 1-2-3 in the ninth. 

Rollins was 2-for-4 with two walks on the day.  4-for-14 in the series. 

Victorino 1-for-5 with a walk and left six on base today.  3-for-12 in the series.

Utley had the biggest hit of the day and was 2-for-5 with three RBI.  Also 3-for-12 in the series. 

Howard was 1-for-5 today and 4-for-12 in the series with a home run.

Burrell was 2-for-4 with what looked like a huge home run.  He was 3-for-8 in the series.

Rowand was 1-for-4 today and 4-for-13 with two stolen bases in the series.

Lieberthal was 0-for-3 with two walks today and 0-for-8 with three walks in the series.

Nunez.  2-for-5 with two singles and an RBI today and 3-for-12 in the series.

No game tomorrow.  The Phillies will be home on Friday for the first of three with the Reds.


August 9 2006

Charlie Manuel rolled the dice early last night and came up empty.  Wunderkind Cole Hamels was cruising but, with a chance to score in a tight game in the seventh, Manuel pulled him for the guy he would turn out to need an inning later and the Phillies fell.

The Phillies lost to the Braves 3-1 last night, dropping them to 54-58 on the year.  They remain in second place in the NL East, 13 1/2 games behind the Mets.  They have lost three out of four and are 3 1/2 back in the Wild Card hunt, trailing three teams. 

Cole Hamels got the start for the Phillies and pitched very well.  He went six innings, allowing one run on six hits and a walk.  He allowed one extra-base hit, a triple, and struck out six.  It was the second good start for Hamels in a row.  Over his last two outings he's allowed just eight hits in 13 innings while striking out 18.

Hamels kept the Braves off the board in the first four innings.  In the first he allowed a two-out walk to Renteria but got Andruw Jones to ground to shortstop to end the inning.  In the second, McCann singled with one out but was stranded when Hamels set Diaz and Thorman down to end the frame.  Hamels gave up back-to-back singles with one out in the third, but got Renteria to ground into a double-play to end the inning.  Andruw Jones led off the fourth with a single, but Francoeur followed and grounded into a double-play and McCann flew out to end the inning.

He went into the bottom of the fifth in a scoreless tie.  Diaz led off with a triple on a ball misplayed by Victorino in right.  Hamels got Thorman, but with Hudson up the Braves were able to execute a squeeze play on a high and outside on 2-0 pitch, scoring Diaz from third to put Atlanta up 1-0.  Hamels struck out Aybar to end the inning.

Hamels allowed a single in the sixth but kept the Braves off the board. 

In a 1-0 game, Manuel pinch-hit for Hamels in the top of the seventh with a runner on second and two outs.  It was a little odd -- Hamels had only thrown 80 pitches on the day and was throwing very well.  I don't think it was a bad move, although it hurt the Phillies in the eighth when Dellucci hit against a lefty. 

Geary came in for the seventh and hit Francoeur and gave up a double to McCann, which made it second and third with nobody out.  Matt Diaz hit a sac fly to right, putting the Braves up 2-0 and moving McCann to third with one out.  Aaron Fultz came in to pitch to the lefty Thorman, who doubled off of Victorino's glove, putting Atlanta up 3-0.  Fultz got the next two to end the inning.

Victorino curiously looked not very good in right last night after looking very solid for most of the year in left and center.

It was the second straight bad outing for Geary, who has allowed four runs on four hits in his last 1 1/3 innings.  After 112 games this season he has already surpassed his career-high in innings pitched. 

Rick White pitched the bottom of the eighth and set the Braves down 1-2-3 to lower his ERA with the Phillies to 3.14. 

The Phillies lineup against righty Tim Hudson went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Dellucci (6) Coste (7) Rowand (8) Nunez.  Coste moves ahead of the struggling Rowand and into the six-spot.  Pat Burrell is curiously absent from the starting lineup again.  I don't know whether this is an issue with his foot or not -- he sure looks a lot more mobile to me than he did earlier in the year.  He doesn't deserve to be losing time to Shane Victorino and I hope this isn't meant to be a message to him that he's not part of the team's future.  If it is it's sent at the cost of putting a lesser team on the field for the Phillies. 

The Phillies had a single in each of the first two innings but were kept off the board.  Hamels led off the third with a four-pitch walk, but the next two Phils went in order before Utley walked and Howard struck out to end the inning. 

Dellucci led off the fourth with a single but the next two Phillies went in order before Dellucci was picked off of first and thrown out at second to end the inning.

Hamels was on with a one-out single in the fifth, but Rollins popped out and Victorino struck out to end the inning.

The Phillies went into the top of the sixth down 1-0.  With one out, Howard doubled down the first base line and was thrown out at third.  It was unfortunate, but I don't think you can argue with the decision to try to go for three.  It took two excellent throws from the Braves to get him and Francoeur did a nice job to dig the ball out of the corner in right and come up with a seed to Giles.  Dellucci grounded out to end the inning.

In the seventh, the Phillies got a one-out single from Rowand and he stole second while Nunez struck out for the second out of the inning.  Hamels was up and Manuel pinch-hit for him with Burrell against the righty Hudson.  Burrell grounded out to end the inning. 

Baez replaced Hudson in the top of the eighth with the Braves up 3-0 and walked the bases loaded with one out and Dellucci due to bat.  With lefty-killer Burrell out of the game the Braves brought in lefty Wayne Franklin to pitch to Dellucci.  If he hadn't used him an inning earlier I can virtually guarantee you that Manuel would have brought in Burrell to face Franklin -- Burrell is hitting 309/463/670 against lefties this year and Dellucci is 210/272/308 against them for his career.  Manuel couldn't.  He had already used Burrell the inning before, against a righty.  If Burrell were still available on the bench we may not have even seen Franklin enter the game, although the Braves may have wanted to go with someone who hadn't just walked the bases loaded.  Anyway, it ended up with Dellucci against the lefty and Dellucci crushed the ball to deep center.  With his back to the wall, Andruw Jones jumped and caught it for the second out of the inning.  Victorino scored from third and the Phillies were on the board at 3-1, but Coste struck out to end the inning.

Down 3-1 in the ninth, Nunez did a nice job to knock a one-out single, giving the Phillies two chances with the tying run to the plate.  Lieberthal flew out and Rollins grounded out to end the inning.

Rollins was 0-for-5 and struck out three times. 

Victorino was 0-for-3 with a walk.  He's 7-for-his-last-19 after hitting .213 in June and .154 in July.  He has one walk in his last 34 at-bats.

Utley was 1-for-2 with two walks. 

Howard was 1-for-3 with a walk and left three men on base.

Dellucci was 1-for-3 with a sac fly.  He's 10-for-his-last-20 with two home runs, a double and six walks.

Coste was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and left three men on base.  He's 0-for-his-last-8.

Rowand was 2-for-4 with two singles and stole two bases. 

Nunez was 1-for-4 with two strikeouts.  He did do a nice job in the ninth to give the Phillies a chance to tie the game.

The Phillies will try to win the series this afternoon as Randy Wolf faces Chuck James.

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