Phils Give One Away

Phillies rightfielder Hunter Pence can't get to an RBI triple off the bat of the Dodgers' Tony Gwynn in the third.
Phillies rightfielder Hunter Pence can't get to an RBI triple off the bat of the Dodgers' Tony Gwynn in the third. (MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer)
Posted: June 07, 2012

Hector Luna skied one to center field that plopped into Tony Gwynn Jr.'s glove, and that was enough for many Phillies fans at Citizens Bank Park.

Never mind that the Phillies trailed by one run with six more outs to make something happen. They were 0-21 before Wednesday when trailing after seven innings, and a ballpark that has contained so much positive energy in recent years was simply funereal.

The patrons filled the aisles and headed to the exits, a bolder statement than any heckle or boo. This brand of baseball is unwatchable. The Phillies have lost a season-high five games in a row, the latest a 6-5 defeat to Los Angeles on Wednesday night.

They are two games under .500 for the first time since May 14, and it is painfully obvious that this team, as it is currently constructed, is quite average. Making matters worse, Freddy Galvis left the game Wednesday with a back injury.

Before he presided over yet another defeat at home - the Phillies are 12-18 at Citizens Bank Park - there was a hint of distress in manager Charlie Manuel's voice.

"We can say we've been here before and it's been worse," Manuel said, "but that doesn't mean we have to like it."

The pitching is pristine when the hitting isn't. The hitting is lively when the pitching isn't. And on some nights, nothing is right.

Hope for a late-inning comeback is all but eliminated; the Phillies have not staged one since the final day of the 2011 season. So the departing fans had their reasons.

The Phillies hit three home runs and even held a lead in the sixth inning until Kyle Kendrick and Raul Valdes coughed it up.

Kendrick threw 112 pitches, the fourth-most in his career, and the final one was costly. He had not walked five batters since 2008. The fifth walk - on his final pitch - forced home a Dodgers run. Valdes entered and threw a first-pitch curveball to Dee Gordon that landed as a two-run single. Los Angeles had the lead.

When it unraveled in the sixth, the Phillies had no one warming up until danger was imminent. Kendrick intentionally walked Gwynn to face Jerry Hairston Jr., a pinch-hitter. Six pitches later, his night was over.

They did not bludgeon Kendrick, but his 52/3 innings were rather mediocre. His defense did him no favors; John Mayberry Jr. allowed a bouncer hit by the pitcher to snake through his legs in the third inning. That allowed Gwynn to score from third.

Once trailing, the Phillies fell asleep yet again on offense. Each night, there is a toxic feeling of resignation when the opposition jumps ahead. The Phillies put a runner on first in the seventh and eighth innings for nothing. They scored once in the ninth, but it was too little because Jake Diekman walked home a run in the top half of the inning.

As if losing wasn't enough, there was concern about Galvis, who appeared to injure his back when fouling off a pitch in the fifth. He ran up the first-base line and stopped in visible pain. Head athletic trainer Scott Sheridan did not emerge from the dugout until Galvis winced on his way back to home plate.

He remained in the game, fouled off two more pitches, then decided that the pain was too much. The rookie took himself out of the game. He threw his bat down the dugout tunnel in anger.

That he worked a 3-2 count before succumbing looked important at the time. Mike Fontenot pinch-hit, took one pitch for ball four, and was on second base when Jimmy Rollins mashed a two-out homer.

Galvis, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list after the game, was not the lone injury scare Wednesday. Hunter Pence crashed into the wall and hurt his left wrist on a Gwynn third-inning triple. Sheridan and Manuel jogged to right field. After a lengthy examination, Pence proclaimed himself fit and stayed.

So there he was, with the tying run on first base in the eighth inning, to produce a rally-ending double play. Predictably, that sent even more disgruntled fans home. Those who remained started a wave in the ninth inning of a one-run game, and that was enough commentary on the current state of Philadelphia baseball.

Contact Matt Gelb

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