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It starts at the top


It starts at the top
You don't panic on Mother's Day.

Not with this team.

If you're a Phillies fan, you've been through it before, probably more times than you care to remember ? stretches of inconsistent pitching, untimely hitting, making no-name pitchers look like the second coming of Cy Young.

So, no panic. Not even many boos.

But there's at least some concern in Phillyland after a 4-2 setback to Atlanta on Sunday at Citizens Bank Park made it four losses in five games.

The Phillies , suddenly 11/2 games behind the streaking Mets in National League East, have today off before Manny-less LA comes to town Tuesday for a three-game rematch of last year's National League Championship Series.

The day off will give the city 24 additional hours to fuel a "What's wrong with Jimmy Rollins?" debate.

The Phils' leadoff man went 0-for-5 on Sunday,dropping his average to .195. He has just one homer, nine RBIs and a 231. on base percentage.

Rollins also was an "0-for" in the interview department, declining to speak with reporters after the game.

Charlie Manuel had plenty to say about his shortstop, however.

"Jimmy's in a stage where he's struggling, then you hit a few balls pretty hard and they're caught, and you start pressing even more," Manuel said. "He's at a point where he's trying too hard, wanting it too much. Of course, he's going to come out of it."

Maybe, but the Phillies are now 2-4 against the Braves after beating them 14 of 18 times in 2008. A big reason for the difference in fortunes is Rollins going 2-for-28 (.071) against them.

Throw in No. 2 hitter Shane Victorino's 2-for-26 (he was 0-for-4 Sunday, 0-for-13 in the series) and even Kenshin Kawakami can be formidable.

Kawakami, 1-4 with a 6.14 ERA coming in, worked around five hits and four walks through six innings and became the winning pitcher when the Braves erased a 2-1 deficit with two runs in the seventh.

For once Chipper Jones didn't hurt the Phils. His 29-game hit streak vs. Philly ended.

Instead, it was Casey Kotchman who delivered a seeing-eye, two-run single up the middle off Jack Taschner with two out for the tying and go-ahead runs.

The Braves added an extra run in the ninth off Brad Lidge with Kotchman's RBI double scoring Greg Norton, who walked on four pitches to start the inning.

Kotchman's first big hit ruined Brett Myers' bid for back-to-back wins.

Myers had a shaky start, loading the bases on a single, hit batter and walk before getting an out. Atlanta (15-16) got a run on Garret Anderson's sacrifice fly, but that was it against Myers, despite continual threats.

Meanwhile, two Ryan Howard doubles led to single runs in the second and sixth for the Phils with Pedro Feliz and Matt Stairs sending Howard home with hits both times.

But the Phils had just one runner -- Stairs on a walk -- over the last three innings.

The offensive futility soured an otherwise splendid Mother's Day before a sellout crowd of 45,343. In all, the weekend drew 135,994 fans, a Citizens Bank Park record for a three-game regular-season series.

Very few of those 135,994 booed Rollins, but he may start to hear it soon.

Manuel was asked if he was contemplating a lineup change, perhaps a drop in the order.

"You tell me where he can go?" Manuel said. "I go over that every night. Tell me where we have a leadoff hitter who can have a high on-base percentage? He sits in that hole for us. ? He can still hit 25 homers. ... Jimmy's the guy who makes us go."

Until he starts hitting, the Phils may be going nowhere in the standings.

At least Myers' outing was encouraging. He allowed five hits over six innings, walked two, fanned three and now leads the staff in innings (43) and strikeouts (30).

"I still need more work, but I'm definitely a lot closer," Myers said. "I just need to get that aggressive mentality back."

That seems to be the case for the entire team, which no longer can use the unusual things that went on in April as an excuse.

"We're not thrilled with the way we've played," said Lidge, who needs to be better himself considering his 8.53 ERA. "We know we're better than our record (15-14). We just have to be patient. With the talent we have on this team, you know it's gonna happen soon."

Braves 4

Phillies 2

Looking ahead: Chan Ho Park (0-1, 6.67) vs. Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw (1-2, 4.91) Tuesday.

More inside: IronPigs beat Toledo. SPORTS 3


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: May 13, 2009

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