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05/13/07 6:26 PM ET
Phils fall short against Cubs in finale
Righty Lieber allows two runs, one earned, in eight innings
By Ken Mandel / MLB.com
PHILADELPHIA -- Pink bats did more for breast cancer research than for the Phillies on Sunday afternoon. Cubs starter Ted Lilly made sure of that. The Chicago lefty dominated in a 4-1 win on a sold-out Mother's Day at Citizens Bank Park, limiting the Phillies to three hits in eight innings. The free-agent signee didn't allow a hit until Abraham Nunez singled with two outs in the fifth. The bats will later be auctioned off to help fight breast cancer. "The pink bats weren't working for us," Chase Utley said. Blame the bats if you must, but plenty didn't work for the Phillies against Lilly. Hardly overpowering -- his fastball topped out at 88 -- Lilly survived on fastballs down the middle, and mixed in a curveball. "It was more us, but he definitely beat us," shortstop Jimmy Rollins said. "We took the fastballs down the middle, swung at the ones a little up and he had his curve working. Sometimes, pitchers have nasty stuff and you beat them. Sometimes, they have regular, nothing special stuff and you can't find a way to get it done." Lilly's performance dropped the Phillies to 5-10 against southpaws this season, including two defeats apiece to Florida's Dontrelle Willis and New York's Tom Glavine, and losses to Atlanta's Chuck James and San Francisco's Noah Lowry. Without the disabled Ryan Howard, manager Charlie Manuel loaded his lineup with seven of eight right-handed position players against Lilly, with Utley the exception. It didn't matter. "It was nothing overpowering, just everything in and out," Nunez said. "He expanded the zone and we chased pitches. He was hitting his spots. He got away with everything." Lilly had the best strikeout-to-walk ratio in the National League this season, and has now allowed two or fewer runs in six of his eight outings. Nunez agreed that the effective lefty looked like a slightly harder-throwing version of a certain 44-year-old Phillies left-hander. "[Jamie Moyer] did the same thing," Nunez said. "We couldn't get anything going offensively," Utley added. Jon Lieber, who had his start pushed back two days because he cut his right middle finger while slicing food, didn't show any ill effects, and limited Chicago to two fourth-inning runs. The righty allowed nine hits in a 115-pitch outing, but couldn't match Lilly. The Phillies finally broke through with a run in the eighth, collecting two hits to start the inning by Wes Helms and Nunez. Carlos Ruiz lined to Aramis Ramirez for the first one, but Ramirez's attempt to double off Nunez sailed wide of first baseman Daryle Ward for an error. Pinch-runner Michael Bourn scored on the play for the lone run. The next two batters, pinch-hitter Shane Victorino and Rollins flew out to end the inning. Any momentum was short-lived, when the bullpen allowed two runs in the ninth to ensure defeat. Antonio Alfonseca loaded the bases with one out, and Fabio Castro allowed a four-pitch walk to force in the first run. Utley's bobble of a potential double play allowed the second run to score. "That part gets frustrating," Rollins said. "That's been a big problem to come back and make the game close, then look up and the lead has jumped back out there. [Cubs batters] get paid to hit. Our pitchers get paid to pitch, but sometimes you give credit to the other team." Utley's performance on the final play provided a painful snapshot for the afternoon of futility. With two outs, Utley singled to left and was thrown out at second trying to stretch for the game's final out. Trailing by three runs, Utley acknowledged that his hustle was misguided. "It was a bad decision," Utley said. He knelt down as the Cubs celebrated a few feet in front of him, then walked slowly off the field. "We couldn't hold them," Manuel said. And Lilly didn't help them.
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.