Phils escape no-hitter but not loss in LA
Sputtering offense gets only Victorino single in eighth inning
LOS ANGELES -- No matter what the rotation looks like with Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels, the Phillies are built for offense.
That is their reputation, anyway.
But too often this season they have not lived up to it. Dodgers right-hander Hiroki Kuroda took a no-hitter into the eighth inning Monday in a 3-0 victory over the Phillies at Dodger Stadium, which dropped the Phillies three games behind the Atlanta Braves in the National League East. The Phillies have been no-hit through four innings in four of their last seven games and have been no-hit through five innings or longer four times this season.
"The lineup we've got on the field tonight is our lineup," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "If that lineup doesn't hit, then we're in trouble."
They certainly will be.
Despite a three-game sweep over the San Diego Padres last weekend at PETCO Park, the Phillies have lost seven of their last 12 games. That rough stretch can be pinned almost entirely on the offense. The Phillies have hit just .184 and scored just 28 runs (2.3 per game) since Aug. 18.
The pitching staff has a sparkling 2.62 ERA in that span.
Kuroda had an opportunity to throw the first no-hitter against the Phillies since April 16, 1978, when St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Bob Forsch threw one against them at Busch Stadium. But Phillies center fielder Shane Victorino broke up Kuroda's no-hitter with a one-out single to right field in the eighth.
The Phillies hit only a couple balls hard against Kuroda, whom the Phillies chased for six runs in just 1 1/3 innings in Game 3 of the 2009 NL Championship Series. He hit Jayson Werth with a pitch in the second inning Monday. He walked Carlos Ruiz in the sixth and walked Werth in the eighth.
Play had to be halted momentarily in the eighth inning when a beach ball landed against the left-center-field wall with Raul Ibanez at the plate. There were a few scattered boos, but nothing comparable to what would have been heard in Philadelphia had a fan interrupted a Phillies no-hitter. Ibanez grounded out, but Victorino followed and hit a 1-1 fastball to right.
"I think he probably missed a spot," Victorino said. "Oh well."
Kuroda appeared to be battling his nerves in the eighth, and Dodgers manager Joe Torre acknowledged as much.
Not that it helped the Phillies too much.
The Dodgers scored a run in the first inning and a run in the second inning against Halladay to take a 2-0 lead. The Dodgers never hit the ball hard, but they put the ball in play. There was an infield hit and a grounder through the hole to right field in the first. There was a grounder through the hole and a blooper down the right-field line in the second.
Rod Barajas continued to punish the Phillies with a home run to left field in the fifth to make it 3-0.
Barajas has hit .514 (18-for-35) with four doubles, eight home runs and 19 RBIs in 11 games against the Phillies since a forgettable season in Philadelphia in 2007.
Halladay, who allowed 10 hits and three runs in seven innings, dropped to 16-10 with a 2.27 ERA.
He pitched well enough to win.
"It's one of those things we've been going through," Halladay said. "I think going out you definitely feel like we need to do a good job of keeping the game close as a starter. I think the Barajas run at that point in the game the way [Kuroda] was throwing, it seemed to be a little too much. Yes, it's something we're going through as a team. Hopefully, we can get things going a little bit."
The Phillies have danced with no-hitters before Monday. Cincinanti Reds pitcher Travis Wood lost a perfect game in the ninth inning July 10 at Citizens Bank Park; Boston Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka lost a no-hitter in the eighth inning May 23 at the Bank; and Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey lost a no-hitter in the sixth inning Aug. 14.
The Phillies have been shut out 11 times this season, the most since they suffered 11 shutout losses in 1998. They have been one-hit three times this season.
"It seems like we go through five innings real quick," Manuel said of the team's early-inning at-bats. "Nothing happens. We've got 31 games to play now. If we're going to start hitting, I'd like to see us click it in."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.