Lowly Marlins feast on Phillies, 5-1

Phillies starter Cole Hamels pitched six strong innings, but once he departed, the bullpen floundered yet again. Getty
Phillies starter Cole Hamels pitched six strong innings, but once he departed, the bullpen floundered yet again. Getty
Posted: May 21, 2013

MIAMI - They closed the upper deck at Marlins Park, a stadium that has lived for 14 months of baseball. Interest in the home team is infinitesimal. The Marlins scored 2.66 runs per game before Monday, and that is fewer than any major-league team since the game integrated in 1947.

They were not the worst offense in the building on this night.

The Phillies came to Florida with hopes of eclipsing .500. After a 5-1 embarrassment, they must win the next two to secure a series victory against the National League's worst team. Four of Miami's 13 wins have come at the mercy of the Phillies.

Miami had scored seven runs in its previous five games before a five-run outburst. The Phillies' bats were shuttered by Alex Sanabia, owner of a 5.00 ERA before Monday. The Phillies have scored two or fewer runs in 40 percent of their 45 games.

Scenes of frustration are mounting. Cole Hamels stormed from the visiting clubhouse and declined to speak to reporters. The Phillies are 1-9 in games he starts. He struck out 10, walked none, and was rewarded with his seventh loss.

When Chase Utley was caught stealing to end the eighth inning, he refused to vacate the base. Carrying the potential tying run, he appeared to beat the tag. Charlie Manuel came to argue as Utley remained on the bag while the Marlins sprinted to their dugout.

The Phillies have had eight chances to move within one game of a .500 record. They are 0-8 in those games.

"We take a step forward and two steps back," Manuel said. "We seem like we're having a really rough time getting to .500. That's a measuring stick for us."

The difference for Hamels was a first-pitch cutter that did not cut to Justin Ruggiano in the sixth inning. He bashed it over Delmon Young's head for a double. Young did not play it well. Placido Polanco scored from first to crack a 1-1 tie. The smallest of mistakes are magnified by a weak lineup.

"I think today was a big breakthrough," pitching coach Rich Dubee said of Hamels. "I think you saw electric stuff."

Manuel said Hamels "expects to be the big pitcher on our team" and the lack of support could be affecting him. Dubee cited the loss of Roy Halladay as a factor, too. Same with the $144 million the Phillies are paying Hamels.

"It's a lot of tight ball games, his contract," Dubee said. "He's probably one of the bigger faces of the Phillies, and he wants to be accountable for that. Not winning probably weighs on him, and I think losing Doc weighs on him."

Miami's offensive futility is inconceivable. The Marlins' .599 team OPS entering Monday was fifth-worst since 1947 and the worst since 1972. Their No. 3 hitter, Derek Dietrich, started 2013 at double-A Jacksonville. Marcell Ozuna was the cleanup hitter and he started the season at single-A Jupiter.

The Marlins proved dangerous enough. They scored a run on three first-inning singles. Once Hamels departed, the bullpen floundered yet again. Miami scored three insurance runs in the eighth inning off Justin De Fratus and Phillippe Aumont.

Domonic Brown smashed a solo homer to right in the second inning that erased Hamels' first-inning jitters. The ball thudded off an empty blue chair in right field and echoed through the ballpark. And that was it.

The Phillies hit 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position. The final ignominy was Chad Qualls - released last summer by the Phillies - retiring his former team in order in the ninth.

All Hamels had was his personal improvement, which did not prevent grumpiness. Hamels has not thrown a pitch with his team leading since April 7. The Phillies have scored 27 runs in 10 games started by Hamels. Optimism dwindles by the day.


Contact Matt Gelb at mgelb@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @magelb.

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