Rockies roll past flat Phillies

Darin Ruf tees off in the fourth inning in a rain-delayed game against the Colorado Rockies that ended too late for this edition. He is a .363 career hitter against lefties in the minors.
Darin Ruf tees off in the fourth inning in a rain-delayed game against the Colorado Rockies that ended too late for this edition. He is a .363 career hitter against lefties in the minors. (         YONG KIM / Staff Photographer)
Posted: May 29, 2014

The ballpark looked funereal at 10:35 p.m. with the result still in doubt. It was quiet enough to hear Scott Franzke's voice careen from the concourses onto the rows of empty blue seats. The mitts popped from the bullpens beyond center field. Willin Rosario jumped a first-pitch Cole Hamels fastball, and a single scream emanated from the stands.

Colorado won, 6-2, once Rosario's three-run blast in the seventh cracked a tie game. His Rockies teammates shouted and pounded Rosario when he returned to the visiting dugout, and their celebration was audible through the empty stadium.

The second-smallest crowd (23,159) this season paid to be at Citizens Bank Park. A 1-hour, 22-minute rain delay thinned the spectators. A cacophony of E-A-G-L-E-S chants and boos filled the air as the final outs were recorded.

These are not unfamiliar scenes, and the Phillies are 22-27, their worst 49-game start since 2002. They were no-hit Sunday, rebounded for a 9-0 rout Monday, and played dead Tuesday. That is the story of these Phillies, a team that cannot escape its own mediocrity.

Hamels dueled with fellow lefthander Jorge De La Rosa for six innings. But he walked two in the seventh ahead of Rosario, who smashed his fifth homer. Hamels was not pleased with home-plate umpire Brian Gorman's strike zone. It was not a problem before the sixth; Hamels did not walk any of the first 21 Rockies he faced.

Colorado added two insurance runs in the eighth when Jeff Manship permitted a triple and double. The triple was a catchable ball at the base of the left-field wall, but John Mayberry Jr. bungled the play. Manship's ERA is 7.53.

Ben Revere, at least, provided a moment of levity - if fleeting. He crushed a seventh-inning Boone Logan fastball to the first row of the right-field stands for his first career home run. It was his 1,566th career plate appearance.

The diminutive outfielder circled the bases. He once said he would do "cartwheels on the bases" to mark his first homer. He did not fulfill that promise.

"When I got to second base I didn't know what to do," Revere said.

Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley high-fived Revere, but the Phillies dugout remained motionless at the behest of Reid Brignac. The Phillies iced Revere, who laughed as he deposited his helmet. Then a mob rewarded him with noogies.

Happiness, though, was scant on this night. The Phillies failed with frequency in the middle innings. The bottom of the order - Carlos Ruiz, Cesar Hernandez and Hamels - each singled. The Phillies entered Tuesday with the league's highest OPS when the bases were loaded. But Revere tapped one to Justin Morneau, who forced Ruiz at home. Rollins popped to first. And Utley skied one deep, but not far enough, to left. The fans booed.

"That came back to haunt us," manager Ryne Sandberg said.

One runner was stranded in the fourth and the fifth. Mayberry and Ruiz patched together two-out singles in the sixth. Cesar Hernandez, starting for the fifth straight game at third base, shattered his bat on a weak groundout.

Hamels was perfect through three with 39 pitches. De La Rosa carried a 12-inning scoreless streak into Tuesday. It ended at 15 innings once Darin Ruf smacked a slider deep to left-center. Ruf started at first base for the first time in 2014, and Sandberg labeled it as "an opportunity" for the 27-year-old to win playing time against lefthanded starters.

Ruf has 18 homers in his first 89 major-league games.

One change Sandberg may contemplate is inserting Ruiz atop the lineup again. The catcher reached base four more times Tuesday. His on-base percentage is .396, best on the Phillies and among the league's leaders. He could add another productive presence in front of the lineup's heart. Ruiz batted second for a five-game stretch last week; the Phillies were 2-3.

Small alterations, like a new batting order, will not end the current spiral. The flaws extend deeper, and Tuesday demonstrated just that.



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