Phillies' offense goes cold in desert

Cliff Lee struck out 12 Diamondbacks over seven innings but lost, 4-0. He allowed five hits and two home runs while walking one.
Cliff Lee struck out 12 Diamondbacks over seven innings but lost, 4-0. He allowed five hits and two home runs while walking one.

Ian Kennedy yielded just three hits and struck out 10. The Phils could not support Cliff Lee.

Posted: April 26, 2011

PHOENIX - This is the part where you remember the Phillies have failed to score more than four runs in a game for two weeks.

All it took was a rather human night from one of the starting pitchers - Cliff Lee allowed four runs in seven innings - to remember that the best team in baseball has plenty of current holes.

In Monday's 4-0 defeat to the hapless Arizona Diamondbacks, the Phillies were punchless. In 2 hours, 4 minutes they rolled over to an Arizona team reeling from a sweep at the hands of the last-place Mets. But this should come as no surprise considering that the Phillies have failed to score more than four runs in 14 straight games.

In that stretch, they are hitting .200 (93 for 465). They have hit nine home runs in 124 innings. They have 23 extra-base hits, or 1.6 per game.

It ties the longest stretch the Phillies have gone without scoring more than four runs since 1968. The last time it happened for 14 straight games, in 1984, the Phillies were 1-13.

"We all know we're better than that," Raul Ibanez said.

Because of their stellar pitching, some timely hits, and being "lucky as hell" according to Charlie Manuel, the Phillies have won nine of these 14 offensive snoozers.

But after the five-game winning streak was snapped, a glance at some of the offensive numbers is cringe-worthy for Manuel and his staff.

Ibanez is 0 for his last 21, the longest hitless streak of his 16-year career. Carlos Ruiz is 0 for his last 22. Wilson Valdez is 2 for his last 22 and was removed for a pinch-hitter.

That means the current 6-7-8 hitters in the Phillies lineup are 2 for 65 - and both of those hits were infield singles by Valdez.

How bad was it Monday? Ian Kennedy threw his first complete game in his 49th career start. The Phillies did not have more than four hitters bat in an inning. The Diamondbacks pitcher registered six 1-2-3 innings. The Phillies had three base runners - two were Placido Polanco, who doubled and singled and is the only breathing bat in the lineup.

Say Manuel wanted to move Jimmy Rollins - who is 5 for his last 35 and provided the final blow Monday, a swinging strikeout to end it - from the three hole. Sure, but who replaces him? Ibanez has been scuffling for a prolonged period. Does it mean more time for John Mayberry Jr., who hasn't exactly knocked down the door? Valdez has always been an offensive liability the Phillies accepted because of his defense. But in this lineup, does Pete Orr's bat take preference?

Again, there are not bountiful options.

"When you're not hitting, there ain't nothing at all going on," Manuel said. "When a guy pitches a game like that, and you're not hitting, there's nothing happening. That one's gone."

Lee was not awful, but far from his sharpest. Chris Young jumped a first-pitch fastball for a two-run home run in the third. Gerardo Parra hit his first homer of the season, also on a first-pitch fastball, in the fifth inning.

"I have to tip my hat on that one," Lee said. "The one to Young had a little more plate. He hit that one pretty good. First pitch, they were hacking and got a pitch to handle and hit two homers."

The lefthander did strike out 12 batters for the second time this season. It was one shy of his career-high 13 done in 2010 with Texas.

Kennedy struck out 10 in his shutout. He threw 114 pitches and made quick work just days after leaving the team for the birth of his child.

The next test comes in the form of Daniel Hudson, the 24-year-old Arizona righty who has a 5.92 ERA and allowed seven runs and four walks in his previous start.

Who knew that day in Atlanta two weeks ago that something momentous would happen? The Phillies rapped eight extra-base hits April 9 off the Braves. They hit six doubles, two home runs, and scored 10 times.

Imagine that.


Contact staff writer Matt Gelb at mgelb@phillynews.com.

Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/magelb

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