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September 6 2007

Take a deep breath.  It probably won't help, but I don't really see how it could hurt.  If you're thinking it might be time to finally give in to that interest in tournament bass fishing you've been trying to fight, well, I'm not here to argue with you.

The latest in the Phillies playoff push is this: yesterday they couldn't hold an 8-2 lead in the eighth inning.

In other news, I'm starting to think there's a chance Charlie Manuel might not win Manager of the Year.

Four possible goats yesterday: Myers, Gordon, Roberson and Manuel.  All brought a special kind of miserable to the table, and I'm not saying you have to pick one, but I do have to say this: Charlie Manuel takes some criticism he doesn't deserve, but with a bullpen full of rested relievers it was absolutely preposterous to bring in Tom Gordon to pitch for the third straight day yesterday.  He was pitching for three days in a row for the first time this year.  Gordon was brutalized by bad defense in right from Roberson and plain old bad luck, but before his day was over he was charged with four runs and got one out.  He never should have been in the game.

Gordon turns 40 in two months.  Going back to last season, in the last 48 1/3 innings he's pitched he's thrown to a 5.96 ERA.  He can't pitch on back-to-back days, much less three in a row. 

The Phillies lost to the Atlanta Braves yesterday, falling 9-8 to drop to 73-66 on the year. They stay in second place in the NL East, five games behind the Mets.  They are tied with the Dodgers in the Wild Card hunt and both teams trail the Padres by three games.  The Phils have lost four of their last five.

Kyle Kendrick got the start for the Phillies and went five innings, allowing two runs on six hits. Three of the hits went for extra-bases, two doubles and a home run. He struck out two and didn't walk a batter. He was fantastic through five innings, shutting the Braves out while allowing two singles and a double. Things fell apart for him in the sixth and he had to leave without recording an out in the inning.

Kendrick started the first with a 3-0 lead and gave up a leadoff single to Willie Harris before setting the next three Braves down.

Brian McCann started the second with a single, but Kendrick got the three hitters behind him.

Kelly Johnson doubled to left with two outs in the third, but Kendrick got Chipper Jones on a ground ball to second for the third out.

Kendrick threw a 1-2-3 fourth and a 1-2-3 fifth.

In the sixth, Willie Harris led off with a home run that cut the Phillies' lead to 5-1. Kelly Johnson followed with a single to right and Chipper doubled to center, scoring Johnson to make it 5-2. That was it for Kendrick. Romero came in to pitch to the switch-hitter Teixeira with the lefty McCann due to hit behind him. Romero walked Teixeira, but got McCann on a fly ball to left for the first out. Kane Davis came in to pitch to the righty Francoeur. Francoeur blooped a ball into shallow left and Rowand made a terrific catch to turn it into the second out. Davis struck out Andruw Jones to end the inning.

Davis is a surprising choice there to pitch to the righties at what was a big spot in the game. Alfonseca, Mesa and Geary were all presumably available. Rowand's catch on the Francoeur bloop looked huge at the time.

Geary started the seventh up 8-2. Yunel Escobar singled to right to start the inning and a bobble by Roberson allowed him to move to second. Error on Roberson. Geary struck out Matt Diaz for the first out and got Harris on a fly ball to center for the second. Johnson flew to center for the third out.

Gordon started the eighth, pitching for the third straight day, this time with a six-run lead. I truly have no idea why you would do that.  By my count they had Alfonseca, Castro, Condrey, Ennis, Mesa and Rosario available.  Tuesday's game was just the third time all season that Gordon had pitched on back-to-back days.  Chipper Jones led off with a double before Teixeira flew to right for the first out.  McCann blooped a ball in front of Roberson, sending Jones to third. Francoeur blooped another ball into right field.  Chipper scored to make it 8-3 with men on first and second and one out.  Lefty Scott Thorman pinch-hit for the pitcher Jose Ascanio and Chris Woodward ran for McCann at second.  Thorman blooped a single in front of Werth in left for a single. It loaded the bases.  Myers came in to pitch to Yunel Escobar and unleashed a wild pitch.   Woodward scored and it was 8-4.  Myers walked Escobar, loading the bases with one out for Diaz. Diaz reached on a ball fisted to Rollins at short.  8-5 with the bases still loaded and Harris at the plate and one out.  Myers walked Harris and it was 8-6.  Kelly Johnson was next and popped to Nunez in foul territory.  Chipper flew to left to end the inning with the bases loaded.

Two bloops in front of Roberson, who may have been playing too deep but didn't get the jump he needed on either ball.  McCann's ball looked like the easier play, Francoeur's could have been caught after a longer run.

Myers started the ninth after throwing 25 pitches in the eighth and 16 the night before. He struck out Teixeira to start the inning. Brayan Pena pinch-hit for Corky Miller and grounded to first for the second out.  Francoeur was next and he reached on an infield single to short, bringing Martin Prado to the plate as the tying run. Prado hit a high chopper back to Myers and Myers' throw to first was high.  It pulled Howard off the bag -- if the throw was on target the play would have been very close.  Francoeur, who had stolen second without a throw, went to third.  Myers walked Escobar on four pitches to load the bases for Diaz.  Diaz drove a ball to right field, off the glove of Roberson for a double.   Roberson hit Utley and Utley's relay home was offline up the first base line.  Escobar slid in safely to give the Braves a 9-8 win.  A good relay from Utley probably would have gotten Escobar and sent the game to extra-innings.

Roberson didn't really have a good game in the outfield.  After making an error in the seventh he couldn't get two bloops in the eighth.  The Phils lost the game in the ninth on a ball off of his glove.

Gordon and Myers combined to allow seven runs in 1 2/3 innings.

Between the eighth and the ninth I count six hits for the Braves that were weak.  Three bloops in the eighth.  The single that Diaz fisted softly to Rollins in the eighth.  The Francoeur infield single in the ninth, which was hit to deep short and didn't give Rollins a chance.  Prado's chopper back to Myers. 

Still, the Phils were up 8-2 with one out in the eighth and a man on second.  You cannot blow a six-run lead on bad luck, and the Phillies didn't.  Chipper led off the eighth with a double he ripped off of Flash.  Roberson has to make those plays in right later in the inning.  Myers entered in the eighth and allowed a run to score on a wild pitch.  In the ninth, he walked Escobar on four pitches, putting the winning run on base, and win the game Escobar did.  Roberson should have caught Diaz's ball in right.  Utley could have had Escobar with a better relay.  Gordon has no business being in the game at all to pitch for the third straight day.

All said, though, I'd say that after the magic they got on Rowand's dribbler and the Marlon Anderson play at second, their tab is even.

The Phillies' lineup against righty Tim Hudson went (1) Rollins (2) Utley (3) Burrell (4) Howard (5) Rowand (6) Dobbs (7) Werth (8) Coste. Coste catches. Werth stays in right and Dobbs plays third against the righty.

Back-to-back singles by Utley and Burrell with one out in the first put men on first and second for Howard. Howard flew to center for the second out and Utley moved to third. Rowand was next and he singled to left, Utley scored to make it 1-0 and Burrell went to second. Dobbs walked to load the bases and Werth followed with a two-run single into left. 3-0 with men on first and second. Coste grounded to second to end the frame.

Rollins tripled with one out in the second and scored when Utley followed with a fly ball to right, making the score 4-0.  Burrell was next and he hit a blast out to left center. 5-0. Howard followed with a single and Rowand doubled to left-center.  Rowand was caught between second and third and Howard delayed briefly before taking off for home and was tagged out to set the Phillies down.  Bad base running double-feature.

Coste and Kendrick singled back-to-back with two outs in the third.  Rollins flew to center for the third out.

Utley singled to start the fourth, but Burrell was called out looking behind him. Howard followed with a walk before Rowand hit into a double-play.

The Phils went 1-2-3 in the fifth.

Utley and Burrell walked back-to-back with two outs in the sixth, but Howard grounded to third behind to turn the Phils away.

After Rowand flew to right for the first out in the seventh, Dobbs and Werth singled back-to-back.  It put men on first and second for Coste, but Coste popped to first for the second out.  Pete Laforest pinch-hit for Kane Davis, making his Phillies' debut, and he ripped the ball off of the glove of Teixeira at first and into right for a single. Dobbs scored from second to put the Phils up 6-2 and Werth went to third. Rollins was next and he walked, ball four went off the glove of McCann and Werth came home to put the Phils up 7-2 on the wild pitch. With runners on first and second, Utley singled into center and Laforest came home to make it 8-2. Burrell walked to load the bases, but Howard grounded to short for the third out.

Roberson singled with one out in the eighth, but Werth popped to first and Coste flew to center for the third out.

With two outs in the ninth, Rafael Soriano hit Utley with a pitch, drawing a glare. Ruiz, who entered with Myers in the top of the ninth, singled to left and Utley went to third. Howard flew to left for the third out.

Jimmy Rollins was 1-for-5 with a triple and a walk. He was 2-for-13 with a double in the series. 296/348/533 on the season.

Utley was 3-for-3 with a walk and two RBI. 6-for-11 with a double in the series. 341/421/578.

Burrell was 2-for-3 with his 25th home run and two walks yesterday. 3-for-9 with four walks in the series.

Howard was 1-for-5 with a walk and left nine men on base yesterday. Two in the first, two in the sixth, three in the seventh, two in the ninth. 2-for-12 in the series. 269/386/567.

Rowand was 2-for-5 with a double and an RBI. 5-for-13 with two doubles in the series. 313/381/522.

Dobbs was 1-for-3 with a walk. 1-for-4 with three walks in the series. 282/338/462.

Werth was 2-for-5 with two RBI. 3-for-11 in the series. 323/422/476.

Coste was 1-for-5 and left five men on base in his only action of the series. He's 4-for-his-last-24. 306/330/444 Ruiz was 1-for-1 yesterday and 2-for-7 with a home run in the series. 262/335/408.

No game today.

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