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08/25/07 12:35 AM ET
Phillies rocked by Padres in opener
Ruiz's hard slide sparks San Diego as Philly loses ground
By Ken Mandel / MLB.com
PHILADELPHIA -- Carlos Ruiz didn't intend to so fiercely stoke the opposition, but his misdirected attempt at breaking up a double play fueled the Padres to a 14-3 win Friday at Citizens Bank Park. Ruiz didn't mean to -- it just happened that way. "It changed everything," Ruiz said of the momentum shift that helped turn a one-run lead into a blowout. With no outs and runners on first and third in the fourth inning, Abraham Nunez hit a looping grounder to shortstop. Khalil Greene fed to second baseman Marcus Giles, who took one step to the right-field side of the base to complete the throw to first. Steaming toward second, Ruiz changed his route and barreled into Giles. The two exchanged heated words and were separated by second-base umpire Bill Welke. Both benches cleared. "It wasn't a slide," said Giles, who later left the game with a right hip pointer. "That's the thing about it. The replay shows it. The only reason he went to the ground was after he made contact with me. Some part of your body has to reach the ground before you reach the bag ... and I'm the first person who got hit. Usually, the ground gets hit first. He didn't slide and there was no intention to slide." For his part, Ruiz agreed that the unintentional charge was an aggressive error in judgment, but he explained that he was just trying to break up a double play. "That's part of the game," Ruiz said. "He thought I came in a little high. I saw the replay, and yeah. ... He was still on the base, so ... I [told him] I was trying to break up the double play." "I spoke with [Welke] and he said [Ruiz] was in the air," said Jimmy Rollins, who, as an infielder, has a lot of experience with tough slides. "If he was on the ground, it's a clean play. You have to respect the ump for making that call, because he's looking out for the other team, keeping the game clean. Although it wasn't a dirty play intentionally, he was just trying to break up the play and get in deep; that's what we're trained to do. He just happened to get a step too far." Padres starter Greg Maddux provided a more emphatic explanation. "There's playing hard and there's playing dirty," Maddux said. "That was a [dirty] slide, plain and simple. That's all it was. Did it make [us] play harder? Hopefully, it does for the next month and a half." The Padres played harder. Instead of having a two-run lead with one out, Jamie Moyer grounded out to end the inning, and couldn't contain the simmering Padres. San Diego pounded six runs in the next inning off him and reliever Brian Sanches. Milton Bradley delivered the decisive blow with a two-out, three-run homer to left, and later added another three-run shot in the ninth, giving him six RBIs. Adrian Gonzalez also had two homers for the Padres, who opened up a three-game lead in the National League Wild Card standings. "People were talking," Bradley said. "That [slide] made me more focused, more into the game. For the next few days, they can call me T.O. [Terrell Owens], because I'm going to be [ticking] some people off." Bradley appeared to tick off the Phillies when he angrily flung his bat after the first home run. He explained after the game that his bat broke and he thought he had flown out to left. The ball kept going and turned into a game-changing three-run homer. Maddux (10-9) benefited from the offense to establish a Major League record with 20 straight seasons of at least 10 wins, breaking Cy Young's 19-year mark, from 1891 to 1909. Moyer's night ended after Kevin Kouzmanoff singled, and his ERA ballooned to 5.16 ERA. The lefty has a 7.27 ERA in August. His performance, coupled with a Mets win over the Dodgers, sent the Phillies six back in the National League East. None of that will matter if the Phillies don't turn around a trend in which they've lost five of their past six games. "We got to win some games," manager Charlie Manuel said. "Everybody in the clubhouse knows that. We're playing the teams we have to catch. When they're beating you, no good can come from that."
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.