Sandberg sends Ruf back to bench

A.J. Burnett fell behind the Angels early in Wednesday night's game in Los Angeles, but the Phillies fought back to tie the score. It was 1-1 in the third inning of the game, which ended too late for this edition. Coverage at inquirer.com and philly.com. Phillies notes, D7.
A.J. Burnett fell behind the Angels early in Wednesday night's game in Los Angeles, but the Phillies fought back to tie the score. It was 1-1 in the third inning of the game, which ended too late for this edition. Coverage at inquirer.com and philly.com. Phillies notes, D7. (JEFF GROSS / Getty Images)
Posted: August 15, 2014

ANAHEIM, Calif. - Darin Ruf reached base five times in two days, his first consecutive starts in more than two weeks. But when manager Ryne Sandberg posted his lineup Wednesday, Ruf was absent.

Sandberg said the Phillies, 131/2 games back and on pace for 71 victories, must prioritize winning. Los Angeles starter Jered Weaver is tougher against righthanders, so Sandberg opted to bench Ruf. The Phillies lost, 4-3, when A.J. Burnett imploded in the sixth inning.

Ruf, a 28-year-old first baseman, is no longer young, but 106 major-league games make him a relative unknown. Sandberg admitted his curiosity about Ruf's potential, and said, "It's hard to really get a gauge, still."

Then why not challenge Ruf with a start against Weaver to gain more information?

"That's the tricky part of making up the lineups," Sandberg said, "and also trying to win a game."

The manager's implication was that Ruf cannot help the Phillies win when facing righthanded pitching. Ruf has a career .813 OPS in 246 plate appearances vs. righties, and 12 of his 19 homers are against them.

Ryan Howard started at first base and walked twice. Domonic Brown, the leftfielder, doubled and drove in a run with a groundout. The Phillies have lost each of Burnett's last six starts; his ERA is 6.54 in those games.

Catching Trout

Mike Trout finished 2 for 17 with seven strikeouts against the Phillies this season. The Millville, N.J., native made two outs in the Angels' seven-run sixth inning Tuesday.

"We seem to be pitching him tough," Sandberg said. "I don't want to reveal any secrets, but yeah."

Ken Giles threw 10 pitches in a scoreless seventh inning Wednesday. He struck out Trout with a diving slider that was set up by a three fastballs clocked at 99, 99, and 100 m.p.h.

The Angels will not play the Phillies again until 2017.

Extra bases

Veteran Jason Marquis was activated from the triple-A disabled list and pitched five innings Wednesday for Lehigh Valley. He allowed four runs on eight hits with five strikeouts in his first start since July 20 because of a rib cage injury. Sandberg said Jerome Williams will start Monday, as scheduled, but Marquis could soon join the rotation. . . . Aaron Nola, the team's first-round pick in last June's draft, permitted three solo homers in four innings Wednesday at double-A Reading. It was his second start there. . . . Jesse Biddle will make his next start Saturday for Reading. He started twice at single-A Clearwater after a lengthy "mental break" from competition.

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