Phillies are beaten by the Diamondbacks

Posted: August 04, 2012

Ryan Howard had his head down when his jog slowed to a near crawl. By the time he made it halfway down the first base line, he was already out, his third out on the way to an 0-for-4 line as the Phillies lost, 4-2, to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday night at Citizens Bank Park.

Even after Arizona first baseman Paul Goldschmidt fielded the sixth-inning grounder and tagged first base, Howard kept heading to the bag, finally reaching it with his left foot. By that time, the baseball had nearly gone all the way around the horn.

Howard looked off into right field at nothing in particular. His frustrations were silently building.

Stuck in a terrible slump on a team that is using the next two months as an early audition for next season, Howard took his helmet off and found a seat in the dugout. He didn't say anything.

It was an understandable reaction. The Phillies dropped a very winnable game thanks in part to a bad call, a botched defensive play, and some poor baserunning before a crowd of 43,766.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, John Mayberry Jr. was called out on an inning-ending play at the plate by umpire Jim Wolf. Instant replay showed Mayberry was safe. The run would have tied the game 3-3.

"I thought he was safe," manager Charlie Manuel said. "Sometimes from where I'm standing it's tough to see. But I saw that one real good."

In the fifth inning, Miguel Montero grounded to Jimmy Rollins' right, but the ball kicked off the shortstop's glove for an error and rolled all the way into foul territory, allowing Justin Upton to go first to third. Two pitches later, Chris Johnson drove in Upton with a grounder up the middle to give Arizona a 3-0 lead.

An inning before that, the Phillies managed just one run with the bases loaded, and it came from a sac fly. Chase Utley battled through a nine-pitch at-bat with two outs and the tying run in scoring position, but didn't muster more than a harmless grounder to second base.

The Phillies ran themselves into inning-ending double plays in the first and third innings.

"We just couldn't get a big hit," Manuel said. "And we made some baserunning mistakes."

Kyle Kendrick, who didn't find out he was starting until 4:30 p.m., was called on after Joe Blanton was claimed off waivers by the Dodgers and traded to Los Angeles for a player to be named.

Since being relegated to the bullpen three weeks ago, Kendrick had found a rhythm. Starting with his final outing as a starter and continuing through the first inning Friday night, he hadn't allowed a run in 22 innings.

But Upton ended the streak with a second-inning no-doubter on a fat change-up inside. The ball cleared the first 15 rows behind the left-field fence.

"I got into a groove a little bit," Kendrick said after scattering five hits in four innings. "I'm happy to be starting again - hopefully for good."

In the eighth inning, with Utley on first base and no outs, Howard slapped a high fly ball the other way. But the potential go-ahead hit fell 10 feet in front of the left-field fence and Howard once again disappeared into the dugout.

In his last 10 games, Howard is hitting .184. He's struck out in more than half of those at-bats.

In explaining the troubles, Manuel brought up the fact that Howard didn't have the luxury of a spring training.

After the game, Howard was the first player out of the showers. He spent three minutes getting dressed, then slung his all-black backpack over one shoulder.

Howard put his head down and walked away without saying anything to anyone. Just like in the second, fourth, sixth, and eighth innings.


Contact Chad Graff at cgraff@philly.com and follow on Twitter @ChadGraff.

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