Deja Boo

A season of frustration continued for winless Cliff Lee, who surrendered a three-run homer to erase a 4-1 Phils lead in the fourth. Baltimore won it with an RBI double off Joe Savery in the 10th.
A season of frustration continued for winless Cliff Lee, who surrendered a three-run homer to erase a 4-1 Phils lead in the fourth. Baltimore won it with an RBI double off Joe Savery in the 10th. (NICK WASS / Associated Press)
Posted: June 12, 2012

BALTIMORE - Charlie Manuel was dressed in full uniform hours before Sunday's game and long before any other Phillie. He emerged from the visiting manager's office at Camden Yards, pulled his red cap onto his gray head, and sauntered through an upbeat clubhouse.

When a 5-4 loss in 10 innings to the Baltimore Orioles was complete, Manuel plopped into his chair and slipped on shower sandals. The first word out of his mouth was "Again."

Again, the Phillies scored but stranded so many more chances. Again, they blew another lead with a $120 million pitcher on the mound. Again, they booted another ground ball with a player not suited for his position. Again, a minor-league reliever surrendered a walk-off hit, with the richest reliever in baseball history relegated to watching.

"Again," Manuel said, "they got the big hit and they made the big play. We couldn't put them away."

These Phillies are four games under .500, eight games out of first place, and 10 games behind the Washington Nationals in the loss column. It has been 1,833 days since the Phillies were this far from the top of the division.

Nothing has gone according to plan in this charmless season, only 62 games old but nearing a point of calamity. Reinforcements are weeks away at best. For now, Ty Wigginton at third base and Joe Savery facing the righthanded heart of the Orioles' lineup in the 10th inning of a tie game is reality.

With one out, Adam Jones bounced one to Wigginton. He backed up, and the ball nicked off his glove. Then he accidentally kicked it.

"Everybody in the field at that point wants the ball hit to them," Wigginton said. "And then you make an error and the guy comes around to score and it stinks. It's a terrible feeling."

The next batter, Matt Wieters, laced a high Savery fastball to right over Hunter Pence's glove and off the wall. The game was over.

Savery was pitching because Chad Qualls and Antonio Bastardo were unavailable due to recent work. Michael Schwimer logged three scoreless innings to push it to extras.

Jonathan Papelbon would pitch only if the Phillies gained the lead, Manuel said. Even with a Phillies runner on second and one out in the 10th, Papelbon did not start warming up. Both Papelbon and Manuel said he is healthy and would have had enough time to warm up and attempt the save.

The Phillies lost on a walk-off hit for the seventh time in 2012. Papelbon has not appeared in any of those games. Instead, pitchers such as Savery are on the mound for the deciding moments.

"Those guys lack experience," Manuel said, "but at the same time, that's who we have to use."

The message was the same regarding Wigginton, who is playing for an injured Placido Polanco. He has made four errors at third base in the last four games.

"He makes mistakes," Manuel said. "Right now, that's who we have to play over there."

None of this would have mattered had Cliff Lee done his job. The lefthander remains winless, and this latest failure was his fault. Staked to a 4-1 lead, Lee surrendered a three-run bomb in the fourth inning to Steve Tolleson, Baltimore's No. 8 hitter with a .235 batting average and two career home runs before Sunday.

"I felt like it was a decent pitch," Lee said. "That happens. Sometimes you have to give the other guy credit."

The more egregious mistake may have been two batters earlier, when Lee issued his second walk of the inning. This one was to Mark Reynolds, the man who has struck out more than any other hitter in baseball for the last four seasons, on a 3-2 count.

"I can't really walk a guy there with two outs," Lee said.

Lee's lead could have and should have been larger. The Phillies left the bases loaded in the first and second innings. In the first, Shane Victorino popped the second pitch he saw to foul territory behind third base. Carlos Ruiz struck out, and Orioles starter Jason Hammel escaped.

"We just didn't get it done," said Manuel, repeating a phrase he has used over and over again this season.

Contact Matt Gelb


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