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News » After loss to Brewers, Phillies still looking for rhythm


After loss to Brewers, Phillies still looking for rhythm


After loss to Brewers, Phillies still looking for rhythm
Jayson Werth has a word for what the Phillies' offense looks like when it is playing well.

Rhythmatic.

It isn't a real word, but the imagery fits.

Last night, however, the Phillies' offense was not rhythmatic, or rhythmic, or automatic, or any other word that would suggest a cohesive unit functioning in near unison.

This was Werth's point when he drew on his inner Nas - "Illmatic," the rapper's debut album, also is not recognized by Webster's - to describe the identity of the Phillies' offense on most nights: putting runners on base, driving them in, much like they did the previous night while scoring 11 runs against Milwaukee.

"We're pretty rhythmatic in that sense," Werth said after the Phillies' 3-1 loss to the Brewers last night. "However you want to put it. Throw it in quotes."

Werth went on to describe the events of yesterday as "one of those days."

And it was one of those - out-of-sync, unrhythmatic - days.

The Phillies managed eight hits, but did not put a leadoff runner on base in any inning, and took just four at-bats with runners in scoring position.

By the time any sort of energy crept into Citizens Bank Park, a majority of the 32,759 fans in attendance had disappeared, driven away by a wet, chilly night and an offense that was lacking in spark.

That time came in the ninth inning, when Werth's home run and singles by Raul Ibanez and Matt Stairs put the tying run on first base and the winning run at the plate. Facing Brewers righthander Todd Coffey, pinch-hitter Chris Coste struck out to finish the first loss to the Brewers in their last seven regular-season contests.

But the feeling after the game, both in the manager's office and the clubhouse, was that the Phillies were victims of circumstance as much as they were victims of Brewers righthander Braden Looper, who threw six scoreless innings and allowed five hits.

They did not strike out at all in the first six innings, putting several good swings on pitches that ended up flying directly at Milwaukee position players.

With runners on first and second in the sixth inning, Ibanez hit a sharp line drive to deep rightfield that Corey Hart caught after a split-second adjustment. Ibanez also sent a well-hit grounder up the middle in the fourth with Werth on second that second baseman Rickie Weeks tracked down and threw to first to end the inning.

"We took good swings and hit balls hard," Werth said. "Just came up empty-handed, really."

The Phillies were also plagued by bad-timing.

Four of the seven baserunners Looper allowed reached with two outs. Seven players - Jimmy Rollins (first and eighth), Werth (second), Lou Marson (third), Chase Utley (fourth), Pedro Feliz (fifth and seventh), Shane Victorino (sixth) and Ryan Howard (ninth) - led off an inning. None reached base.

In the first inning, Victorino and Utley hit back-to-back singles, but Howard grounded into a doubleplay to end the frame.

"We hit four balls hard to the rightfielder, right at him," manager Charlie Manuel said. "There are things that happen in the game that could get you going, but it seemed like if something happened good for us we couldn't take advantage of it. We just had a night where we didn't hit."

All of it served to squander a solid outing by Joe Blanton. The righthander turned in his most impressive start to date, allowing three runs on eight hits and striking out five in six innings. The bullpen also was solid.

Blanton allowed a solo home run in the fifth inning to J.J. Hardy on what he described as a poor slider, and a two-run double to Mike Cameron in the sixth on what he described as a poor curveball.

Yet, as has been the case in most of their seven losses, a feeling of optimism existed in the clubhouse after the game.

Blanton said he feels the team is getting close to the groove it will need to shake its early doldrums, as it has in each of the last two seasons.

"You can almost sense it coming," said Blanton, who fell to 0-2. "It's almost like a car that won't quite start . . . I feel it's almost like we are trying to get in that rhythm and then it hits off the path for just a second. It kind of jumps on, jumps off. It's almost rolling. It's really close. That's kind of the way it feels. I think it's just a matter of time before we jump on and take off."

PhillersThe Phillies announced two makeup dates for recently rained-out games: A game on April 20 against the Padres has been rescheduled for July 23 at 7:05 p.m. A game on April 15 at Washington has been rescheduled for a day-night doubleheader beginning at 1:05 p.m. on May 16 . . . All-Star balloting is under way. Chase Utley has started the last three All-Star Games and could become the first Phillie since Mike Schmidt (1981-84) to start four in a row. *

For more Phillies coverage and opinion, read David Murphy's blog, High Cheese, at http://go.philly.com/highcheese.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 23, 2009

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