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A Little Payback


A Little Payback
A good indication that just about all is well with a Baseball team is when the fifth starter is the burning issue during spring training, which was the case with the Phillies .

Last night, the Phils' fifth starter, 35-year-old Chan Ho Park, was the issue.

The righthander couldn't make it out of the fifth inning, and the Phillies couldn't push the New York Mets a little further back in the early-season standings because of a 7-4 loss at sold-out Citizens Bank Park.

Afterward, manager Charlie Manuel reminded everyone that Park won the starting job on merit during spring training, but suggested that Park's hold on it was tenuous.

"He's been inconsistent and he's had a rough going," said Manuel, whose pitching problems this season extend well beyond Park. "I think you have to show patience with players, but I think our pitching has to get better. We'll do things to make it better."

Chase Utley hit his eighth home run in the seventh inning with the bases empty, pulling the Phils to within 7-4. But Mets relievers J.J. Putz and Francisco Rodriguez made certain the Phillies wouldn't stage yet another late-inning comeback win, and the Mets took the first game of the season between the heated division rivals.

The Phils' baserunning was almost as ineffective as Park's pitching. Struggling Jimmy Rollins was caught between first and second after starter Mike Pelfry caught him leaning with one out in the fourth.

But a more egregious mistake was made by Greg Dobbs in the sixth, which ended up taking the Phils out of a potentially productive inning. With two runners on, Rollins reached first on an error by shortstop Jose Reyes. Dobbs rounded second while Chris Coste was trying to get back to third. With nowhere to go, Coste was tagged out.

Instead of having the bases loaded with one out, the Phillies had second and third with two outs. Down by 7-3, they failed to score.

"It looked to me like Coste figured he couldn't make it home," Manuel said. And Dobbs "didn't see Coste stopped at third. It was the responsibility of the runner on second [Dobbs], because the play was in front of him."

In the early innings, Park found the plate to be elusive target. When he did throw strikes, they were to the liking of the Mets, who built a 5-0 lead on a two-run homer by Daniel Murphy in the first, a pair of sacrifice flies in the second, and another in the third.

Park was serenaded with boos, and it could have been worse except for an inning-ending double play in the first.

"I have to hang in there and just keep going," Park said.

Murphy's home run was the 41st allowed by a Phillies pitcher this season. The Phils went into the game tied with Baltimore for the most homers allowed in the majors.

Park was coming off a respectable performance last week against Florida, and the Phils had won in his three previous starts even though he took a 7.63 earned run average into last night's game.

It also appeared that Park might settle in when he pitched a flawless fourth inning after the Phillies cut their deficit to 5-3 on a bases-loaded single by Raul Ibanez that scored two and an RBI single by Pedro Feliz. A single by Shane Victorino in the third extended his hitting streak to 11 games.

Last Saturday at Florida, Park gave the Phils a chance by giving up four runs in seven innings, and they cashed in with a 6-4 win in 10 innings. He had progressed somewhat in each of his three starts.

But last night, Park's pitch count was climbing rapidly and he was pulled in the fifth, when the Mets scored twice more for a 7-3 lead.

Contact staff writer Ray Parrillo at 215-854-2743 or rparrillo@phillynews.com.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: May 2, 2009

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