Bullpen costs Phillies again in 5th straight loss

Starter Tyler Cloyd worked out of a few jams, allowing one run in five innings for the Phillies. JIM MONE / Associated Press
Starter Tyler Cloyd worked out of a few jams, allowing one run in five innings for the Phillies. JIM MONE / Associated Press
Posted: June 14, 2013

MINNEAPOLIS - Charlie Manuel did not flinch as chaos materialized 10 yards from him. He leaned on the dugout railing Wednesday night and dangled his right arm. Justin De Fratus uncorked an eighth-inning wild pitch that plated the decisive run in a 4-3 Phillies loss to the Minnesota Twins, another game blown by a broken bullpen.

The manager shifted his feet and stared straight ahead. His team is disintegrating before his 69-year-old eyes. He ranted about it at length, using strong language. The Phillies have lost five consecutive games one week after winning five straight.

They are failing in all areas. The bullpen, asked to record 12 outs, was tagged for its second straight loss. The offense could not score against a mediocre pitcher. Tyler Cloyd, perhaps making his final start as placeholder for the injured John Lannan, danced through five innings of trouble.

Minnesota scored twice in the eighth. Antonio Bastardo permitted three straight hits. De Fratus could not clean up his mess.

Manuel was testy before the game. His rant commenced when asked whether it was time to consider dropping Ryan Howard from the cleanup spot. Howard has hit one homer in his last 111 plate appearances. He is on pace for 17 home runs and 76 RBIs. He went 0 for 3 Wednesday.

"What the [expletive] are you getting at?" Manuel said. "Who's going to hit there? Let me ask you a question. Let me turn that around some. Write what you want to write."

It was suggested that Domonic Brown could bat there.

"I could put anybody in there, OK?" Manuel said. "Really, if you think about it. I'll do the managing. Whoever hits there, hits there."

That speaks to the limitations of the manager's current roster. He was asked if Howard's lack of production concerns him, and Manuel went beyond his $125 million first baseman.

"I'm concerned with everybody," Manuel said. "Hey, look, I'm concerned with every [expletive] player I got. Yeah, I'm concerned. I want to win. We say that we want to win the division and we want to go to the World Series, right? I'm concerned about every one of our guys. I'm concerned about that .245 or .248 team batting average. I'm concerned about that."

The offense generated little with Mike Pelfrey pitching. Pelfrey completed seven innings for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2012 and lowered his ERA to 6.12. He retired the Phillies in order five times.

Their two first-inning runs were gifted by a blown call at first base. Ben Revere smashed one to third. Jamey Carroll fired off-target, but Justin Morneau slapped Revere on his left shoulder before he touched first. Umpire Bruce Dreckman ruled him safe.

Jimmy Rollins singled and Howard walked. Brown drove a sacrifice fly to left before Delmon Young singled home another run.

There were few chances for more. Michael Young doubled and Revere scored him with a single in the fifth. The Phillies stranded two in the eighth because Howard and Brown failed. Brown is 0 for his last 10.

They succumbed on eight pitches in the ninth inning. As fireworks exploded above Target Field, Manuel stood alone, arms crossed, in the corner of the dugout. Again, he did not move. He remained for 30 seconds, pulled the losing lineup card from his back pocket, and retreated.

Contact Matt Gelb

at mgelb@phillynews.com. Follow @magelb on Twitter.

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