Phillies' bats quieted in finale in Oakland
Eaton goes seven strong, but offense struggles in loss
OAKLAND -- There's the well-documented, team-wide hitting malaise that has enveloped the Phillies for the past eight games.Then there's Oakland's Rich Harden, dominator of the most-potent offenses. The meeting of Philadelphia's struggling lumber and Harden's lightning produced the expected chemical reaction. Only burning embers remained after a 5-0 loss to Oakland, sending the Phillies to their 11th defeat in 15 games, and sixth of the past seven.
"Pitching 101," Greg Dobbs said. "He has a fastball that touches 97, and a changeup that acts like a split, a two-seamer, and a cutter. When you have all that, you're going to have some success.""I can't remember us hitting a ball hard on him," manager Charlie Manuel said. They didn't. The A's ace right-hander didn't allow a baserunner until Shane Victorino singled with two outs in the fifth inning, and even that was a bloop that fell in front of Carlos Gonzalez. Harden walked Carlos Ruiz in the sixth and allowed a second single to Victorino in the eighth, another fluke, as Harden lost an infield pop in the sun. That was the extent of Philadelphia's offense. Harden struck out a career-high 11, and needed 95 pitches to work through eight innings. "That might be the best game pitched against us," Manuel said. "It ranks up there," Victorino said. "It was tough. He hit his spots and had all his stuff working. He kept us on edge." Oakland scored all the runs it would need in the first before Adam Eaton could record an out. Ryan Sweeney doubled in Mark Ellis, who walked to lead off the game, and scored on Jack Cust's single. Sweeney sprained his left ankle on that play and later left the game. It was the fourth straight start that Eaton has given up first-inning runs. "It would be nice to not give up a couple of runs in the first," Eaton said. "Especially against a guy like Harden with no-hit stuff. It was tough to put us behind the eight-ball right away." Eaton recovered to retire the next 10 A's, then escaped some jams until surrendering a solo homer to Gonzalez in the sixth. He allowed three earned runs in seven innings, and Tom Gordon gave up two more in the eighth in his first appearance since June 15. Against a guy with Harden's expansive repertoire, Manuel almost gave his hitters a pass for batting .181 in the past eight games. "I can't tell how bad we were today, because he handled us so easy," Manuel said. "He went right through us. He threw 95 pitches and was sailing. This guy has pretty electric stuff." Pat Burrell's triple in the ninth off Alan Embree gave the Phillies their lone extra-base hit, and was hardly cause for celebration. Despite the team's worst stretch of the season, Philadelphia remains in first place, two games ahead of Florida in the National League East. The Marlins ran up against a buzz saw in Tampa Bay, getting swept in three games, and the Mets and Braves are further back, as none of those teams have taken advantage of the Phillies' stumble. Sure, the Phillies would've loved to have created distance between themselves and the teams below them in the standings, but they could be chasing, instead of fumbling yet still leading. "Everybody gets frustrated," Victorino said. "We just have to keep playing. We're not going to give up. We're in one of those things right now. As bad as we're doing, we're still in first place. We'll take that."
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.