Lopez roughed up in Phillies' loss
Starter gives up seven runs (three earned) in four innings
SAN FRANCISCO -- Rodrigo Lopez stepped on the mound Thursday night at AT&T Park knowing it might be his last start for the Phillies.If it was his last start for the foreseeable future, he would like to have it back. He allowed eight hits and seven runs (three earned) in four innings in a 7-2 loss to the Giants, which gave the Phillies consecutive losses for the first time since they lost three consecutive games June 30 - July 2 against the Braves at Turner Field. He didn't get much help as the normally reliable Phillies defense committed three errors. Lopez is 3-1 with a 3.62 ERA in five starts, but his spot is clearly in serious jeopardy. The Phillies just acquired Cliff Lee from the Indians and their rotation has Lee pitching Friday, Joe Blanton pitching Saturday, Cole Hamels pitching Sunday, Jamie Moyer pitching Tuesday and J.A. Happ pitching Wednesday. That's five pitchers for a five-man rotation. That means Lopez is out barring some unforeseen event, although Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said they have not made any decision on Lopez's fate. It is possible Lopez could remain with the team and pitch in the bullpen. But Lopez had the odds stacked against him even before the Phillies acquired Lee because the Phillies signed right-hander Pedro Martinez earlier this month. Martinez makes a rehab start Friday night for Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Martinez might need just one more rehab start before he is ready to join the rotation. "I will wait until tomorrow and come here and try to work hard," Lopez said. "I'm going to look forward for my next time to pitch." Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval, whom Manuel didn't select to make the National League All-Star team, hammered Lopez and the Phillies. He went 2-for-4 with one double, one home run and four RBIs. Statement? "I don't care about that," Sandoval said. "That was past, in the first half. Now I'm focused [for] the second half." But it sure looked like Sandoval was trying to get Manuel's attention. "Then maybe our pitchers are going to have to get his attention and get him out some," Manule said with a laugh. "How about that?" The only drama for the Phillies came in the sixth inning when Giants left-hander Jonathan Sanchez threw a first-pitch fastball over Chase Utley's head. Intentional? "I don't know," Utley said. "I guess you're going to have to ask him." "I lost my release point," Sanchez said. "It was supposed to be away. I didn't try to hit him. I have nothing against him." Utley looked at Sanchez and took a quick step toward the mound, but kept his composure and remained at home plate. Utley never exchanged words with Sanchez, but the pitch clearly agitated him. Two pitches later, Utley called time and stepped out of the batter's box just before Sanchez delivered a pitch. Sanchez threw the ball into the ground, and it rolled to home plate. Gamesmanship? "I wasn't ready and he started his windup," Utley said. "I just wanted to make sure that I was ready to hit." Utley got the last laugh. Sanchez threw a 2-2 fastball, which Utley drilled over the right-field wall for a solo home run. "The last thing you want that to do is affect your at-bat," Utley said. "Anytime you're successful at the plate there's a little satisfaction, but I'm disappointed that we didn't play that well tonight." "Utley answered him the right way," said Manuel, who did not think Sanchez threw at Utley intentionally with a 7-1 lead. But the battle continued with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning. Phillies right-hander Tyler Walker drilled Ryan Garko with a 0-1 fastball in the back of the left shoulder. Home-plate umpire Bill Welke quickly warned Walker and both benches. No more bean balls. For now, anyway. The Phillies and Giants are two good teams in the beginnings of a four-game series. It could be a spark to ignite an intense weekend.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.