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FLA@PHI: Valdez drills a solo homer to left field

PHILADELPHIA -- It looked like old times for Roy Oswalt last weekend at Nationals Park, where he popped that late-rising fastball and dominated batters like he dominated them the final few months of the 2010 season.

That Oswalt disappeared Friday night at Citizens Bank Park.

He allowed a career-high-tying 12 hits, six runs and one grand slam and struck out two in just 5 2/3 innings in a 6-5 loss to the Florida Marlins. It marked just the second time since May 31-June 4 that the Phillies have lost two consecutive games.

It was a surprising performance from Oswalt, considering how splendidly he pitched last Saturday against the Nationals. He threw eight shutout innings in Washington, allowing eight hits and one walk and striking out nine in a 5-0 victory. His performance in the nation's capital left teammates buzzing afterward in the visitor's clubhouse.

They mentioned his improved velocity and the last-second hop his fastball made on hitters, which he lacked while he battled a back injury that had him on the disabled list twice this season.

"He had a little bit more crispier stuff in Washington," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.

Against the Nats, Oswalt's fastball reached 94.1 mph and averaged 92.2 mph. He got 10 swings and misses on it. Against the Marlins, his fastball reached 92.2 mph and averaged 90.8 mph. He got no swings and misses.

Something was missing Friday.

"That's you guys," said Oswalt, when asked what he made about the drop in velocity. "That has nothing to do with me. You guys watch the radar gun. I looked up a couple innings and saw 91, 92. I threw 93, 94 [in Washington]. Two mph difference. It ain't no big difference."

But he also threw his fastball less Friday, about a third of his pitches compared to more than half his pitches in Washington.

"I felt pretty good," Oswalt said. "My other pitches weren't where they needed to be. Chanegup was OK. I threw a lot more sliders than normal. I've been working on [the slider] a little bit. It felt pretty decent in the 'pen. In the game it started getting flat."

Asked about his back, Oswalt said, "I'm good. I'm good." The Phillies hope so. After Saturday afternoon's game against the Marlins, which could be postponed because of Hurricane Irene, the Phillies play 32 games in 31 days beginning Monday in Cincinnati. The Phils will need a healthy Oswalt to help get them through a brutal stretch before the postseason.

Oswalt was in trouble in nearly every inning as the Marlins had outhit the Phillies, 10-1, through the fifth, but they had just a 2-1 lead after Wilson Valdez hit a solo homer to left field in the third. It was Valdez's first homer since July 1, 2010, ending a span of 148 games and 420 at-bats.

"I think that's why the Dream Team over there is compiled the way that they are," Marlins catcher John Buck said. "They're good at giving up hits and then stopping it, and turning it up a notch when guys are in scoring position. Obviously, you want to take advantage when guys are on the base paths and in scoring position. They're that good for a reason over there."

But Oswalt allowed three consecutive singles to Greg Dobbs, Gaby Sanchez and Mike Cameron to load the bases with nobody out in the sixth inning when Buck finally delivered the fatal blow. He belted a 1-0 slider to right field for a grand slam to make it 6-1.

"Yeah, [the velocity] was a little bit down tonight," Oswalt said, "but it was just one bad pitch, pretty much, the game. A slider that came back over the plate, it didn't go down and away like it needed to."

Ryan Howard hit a three-run homer to right in the bottom of the sixth to make it 6-4, and Michael Martinez's double in the ninth scored Raul Ibanez to make it a one-run game, but the Phillies could not get any closer. Comments