Thirteen innings prove unlucky to Phils
Philadelphia rallies in ninth, but falls to Washington in extras
WASHINGTON -- Shane Victorino stared quizzically at the computer screen saver in the visitors' clubhouse Wednesday, almost hoping the monotony of the images might transport him to another place -- or at least give him some answers.There were none. "There's no answer," he said, looking up for a second. "It just has to happen. It's not like we're not trying. It's so frustrating. We got guys on base, and can't get the two-out hit that we need. It's 10 times more frustrating to lose that way." "That way" has been the Phillies M.O. this season, and it was again in a 5-4, 13-inning loss on Wednesday. The loss dropped the Phillies to 3-10 for the first time since 1997 and gave them the worst record in Major League Baseball. A defeat Thursday would make the Phillies 3-11 for the first time since 1982. The Phillies' bullpen, including newest member Brett Myers, threw six scoreless innings in relief of Adam Eaton, but the Nationals worked a run off Francisco Rosario in the 13th. Chris Snelling blooped a single to shallow center field, and Jimmy Rollins just missed making an over-the-head basket catch. Michael Restovich then doubled to put runners on second and third, and Felipe Lopez's sacrifice fly to left did the deed. Aaron Rowand was right again. After Tuesday's 8-1 loss, the center fielder expressed frustration in saying the Phillies weren't playing bad, just "bad enough to lose." That played out Wednesday, as the Phillies wasted a comeback from three runs down -- including scoring a run in the ninth off Nationals closer Chad Cordero -- only to fall in extras. "When we came back, I thought we had a chance," manager Charlie Manuel said. "They're trying too hard. We're starting to get overanxious and be too quick, swinging at first pitches instead of working the count." Manuel especially liked his team's chances in the 11th inning, when pinch-hitter Cole Hamels (no bench players left) walked to bring up Jimmy Rollins, the team's hottest hitter. But Rollins swung at the first pitch and grounded to second base, one of 11 groundouts that were hit to the second baseman (out of a possible 39). "We had a lot of chances," Manuel said. "It seems like we hit a lot of ground balls to second base." The Phillies went 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position, and are 1-for-24 over the past two games. Their top four batters -- Rollins, Victorino, Chase Utley and Howard -- went a combined 2-for-21 with three walks. Victorino had both the hits. "It is bitter," Victorino said of the disappointing loss. "Everything is bitter around here in regards to what is happening. We battled back and came up short anyway. It always seems like we're one hit away from doing what we need to do." Manuel feels the frustration, too.
"We need for someone to start pounding the ball," he said. "We need to beat somebody good and get some confidence going."
Eaton pitched the first six innings. He allowed a three-run homer to Brian Schneider, losing a 10-pitch duel. That erased a 1-0 lead Eaton gave the Phillies with a two-out, RBI double in the second. The Nationals added a run in the third inning on a sacrifice fly by Dmitri Young.Surrendering the double to Eaton must have upset Jason Bergmann (1-1), who retired the next 13 hitters. He left with runners on second and third and one out in the seventh, though both runners scored on Greg Dobbs' two-run single. That snapped the Phillies' 0-for-19 mark with runners in scoring position. They were hitting .195 in that category for the season at that point. Matt Smith and Geoff Geary combined to load the bases with no outs in the seventh, just after the Phillies pulled to within run, but Geary got a shallow flyout for the first out and a double play to end the threat. The Phillies then handed Cordero only his second blown save in his previous 19 chances, dating back to the All-Star break. Pat Burrell started it with a single and pinch-runner Michael Bourn went to second on Rowand's single. A sacrifice moved the runners over, and Bourn tied the game on Carlos Ruiz's groundout. Nearly 30 minutes after Snelling scored the winning run to give the Nationals the slim victory, Victorino was still staring, likely replaying a double by Rowand and a flyout to deep center by Wes Helms that might have been home runs in, "any other park in America." "We just can't get the break," he said, with a sigh. "It seems like nothing can happen. We battled our way back tonight and showed we can do it, but came up short anyway. Sometimes, I'd rather get blown out by 15 runs than come back the way we did today and lose by one. There's no word for what's going on around here." Actually, there is, but Victorino didn't go on to say it.
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.