Bullpen gets blame in Phils’ loss

Posted: July 07, 2007

DENVER - Coors Field and the Phillies seemed like a bad mix.

Coors is a notorious hitter's park and the Phillies entered Friday night's game against the Colorado Rockies reeling - they had lost five of their previous seven games - thanks to the worst pitching staff in the National League.

And wouldn't you know it? After rookie righthander Kyle Kendrick held his own in six innings, the bullpen imploded in a 7-6 loss in 11 innings.

Mike Zagurski allowed a run in the seventh and Jose Mesa gave up one in the eighth before Antonio Alfonseca served up a two-out, game-tying home run to Brad Hawpe in the ninth to dissolve the three-run lead Kendrick had handed them.

A three-run lead at Coors is never safe, but the game only reinforced the fact that Phillies manager Charlie Manuel has little to work with these days.

He had to bring in J.D. Durbin, who entered with a 15.95 ERA, to pitch the 10th and 11th innings.

In the 11th, Durbin (0-2) walked Garrett Atkins and allowed a single to Hawpe to put runners on first and second with one out.

Yorvit Torrealba's single to center scored Atkins to win it.

Kendrick's performance seemed like ancient history at that point. For the first time in his five big-league starts, the Phillies lost.

He allowed three runs in six innings as he accomplished something the New York Mets could not earlier in the week: He kept Colorado in check. The Rockies scored 34 runs in three games against the Mets, who have one of the better pitching staffs in the league.

"Maybe the Mets were hitting the humidor balls and they were hitting the regular ones," Manuel joked before the game.

The Rockies store their baseballs in a humidor to keep them from drying out and carrying too far in the thin mountain air. But there seemed to be no evidence of a switch Friday night.

The Phils scored three runs on six hits in the first inning to take a 3-0 lead, highlighted by Pat Burrell's two-out, two-run single. They scored another run in the second on Ryan Howard's two-out single and two in the fifth to make it 6-1 on Wes Helms' double to center field.

Every Phillies position player had a hit once Howard singled in the second, although the Phils had just one hit in the final five innings.

The six runs and 12 hits in the first five innings came against Rockies lefthander Jeff Francis, who was 7-1 with a 2.28 ERA in his previous 11 starts. Francis lasted just five innings. He hadn't allowed that many hits in a start since April 21, when he gave up 13 hits and six runs in six innings in a loss to San Diego.

It wasn't enough.

Zagurski took over in the seventh and allowed a one-out homer to Matt Holliday to make it 6-4. He walked Todd Helton and allowed a single to Atkins to put the go-ahead run at the plate.

But Zagurski struck out Hawpe and Jose Mesa got Troy Tulowitzki to pop out to Chase Utley to end the inning.

The Phillies avoided disaster for the moment.

But the bullpen still had six outs to go.

That's an eternity in this ballpark.

Mesa allowed another run in the eighth to make it 6-5 when he allowed a leadoff double to Torrealba and a single to Cory Sullivan. Torrealba scored on Jeff Baker's sacrifice fly to right.

The Rockies had runners on first and second with one out after Mesa walked Kaz Matsui. But Mesa got Holliday to hit into an inning-ending double play. Alfonseca sent the game into extra innings an inning later.

Durbin lost it two after that.


Contact staff writer Todd Zolecki at 215-854-4874 or tzolecki@phillynews.com. Read his blog at http://go.philly.com/zozone.

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