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09/02/09 11:57 PM ET
Phillies provide no support for Happ
Hitters muster five singles as left-hander allows four runs
By David Gurian-Peck / MLB.com
PHILADELPHIA -- Five hits were enough for the Phillies on Tuesday night. But it's not a good recipe on which to rely. They managed just five more Wednesday against Giants right-hander Brad Penny, and this time, J.A. Happ could not match his zeros. Happ surrendered a run in the fifth and back-to-back homers to Juan Uribe and Aaron Rowand in the sixth as Philadelphia lost to San Francisco, 4-0, in front of 45,086 at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies, who lead the National League in nearly every offensive category, were shut out for the fifth time this season. They have scored just 11 runs -- and left 42 men on base -- over their past six games. Such futility left Raul Ibanez quoting poetry. "I think it was Shakespeare that said, 'My head was bloody but unbowed,'" said Ibanez, who is hitting 10-for-75 (.133) over his past 21 games. "The one thing that I know for a fact is going to happen is that we're going to keep battling, going to keep grinding and keep fighting, and we'll make it happen." It was actually William Ernset Henley who penned that line, but the Phillies are trying to figure out why they have suddenly stopped hitting. For the first time since July 1-2, they went homerless for two consecutive games. And with a Majors-high 46.1 percent of their 666 runs coming via the long ball, they are often in trouble when they cannot homer. With runners in scoring position, they are 7-for-46 (.152) with 13 strikeouts over their past six games. Phillies manager Charlie Manuel has said that his club will eventually come around in key situations. "Wasn't tonight, was it?" he said. "Right now we're not hitting. We've got guys in our lineup that are not hitting." Ibanez spent nearly an hour studying film after the game, trying to regain his early-season stroke. And Manuel said he could consider juggling his lineup slightly to provide a spark. "Sometimes, trying something is better than nothing at all," he said. "[But] I think a lot of times, you have to work it out. You have to hit your way out of it." Penny had allowed 27 earned runs over his final 26 2/3 innings (9.11 ERA) with the Red Sox, who released the 31-year-old veteran last Thursday. But in a season-high eight innings Wednesday, he surrendered just the five hits -- and, for the first time this year, none fell for extra bases. He issued one walk but also induced two double-play grounders. Only Ryan Howard advanced as far as third base, and he was stranded there when Carlos Ruiz grounded to short. "He kept his pitch count down real good," Manuel said. "He got ahead of us. He threw a lot of fastballs, and we didn't hit him. But he was pretty good." Happ was pretty good, too, for five innings, although he allowed one run in the fifth. Left fielder Andres Torres fouled off four straight two-strike pitches before hitting a ground-ball RBI single up the middle. In the sixth, however, Happ walked Ryan Garko and left a 1-2 curveball to Uribe high and over the inner part of the plate. Uribe hit it 399 feet for a two-run shot to left. "I was ahead in the count and I got to be able to get the ball down in the zone and execute a pitch, and I wasn't able to," Happ said. "He did the damage from there." Rowand deposited the very next pitch, an inside fastball, into the left-field seats. "I felt like it was a good pitch," Happ said. "Tip my cap to Rowand." Happ has allowed four home runs over his past two starts, consecutive losses that drop him to 10-4. That record is all the more impressive given that he has the third-lowest run support of any NL pitcher who has thrown at least 100 innings. Lately, of course, the Phillies haven't been giving much help to any members of their rotation. "I'm not worried about it," Happ said. "Sometimes you just got to be better than the other guy, and the other guy was pretty good tonight."
David Gurian-Peck is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.