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News » No dice for Stairs this time in Phillies' loss to Nationals


No dice for Stairs this time in Phillies' loss to Nationals


No dice for Stairs this time in Phillies' loss to Nationals
IT STARTED like so many times before: a three-run deficit in the eighth inning, then a walk, a lineout, a fielder's choice, another walk, and then that familiar sound of anticipation as Matt Stairs walked to the plate representing the tying run.

He took a ball, and then another one, and then a swing that he fouled, and then another ball.

And then it happened.

The crowd roared, the pitch arrived, and with the force of a thousand hurricane-strength winds, Matt Stairs swung.

And grounded out to second.

Yes, Virginia, there might be a god, but his name is not always Matt Stairs.

"They got Matt out tonight," manager Charlie Manuel said after the Phillies failed to put together another late-game rally and lost to the Washington Nationals, 4-1. "That's a rarity."

Sometimes it rains in San Diego, and snows in Atlanta, and sometimes a game the Phillies trail in the eighth ends in a loss.

Yesterday was one of those times.

They entered the night riding a five-game win streak and had come from behind in the eighth inning or later in three of them. They scored 46 runs during that stretch, including seven in the ninth inning against Florida on Friday.

Four of the Phillies' 11 wins have come when they trail after seven innings. Five of them have come when they trail after six.

Yesterday, however, it wasn't to be.

Trailing by 4-1 in the eighth, Chase Utley led off with a walk and was replaced with one out on the basepaths by Jayson Werth on a groundout. Raul Ibanez then walked, bringing Stairs to the plate to face righthander Kip Wells with the opportunity to tie it up.

Stairs has excelled in that situation. He hit a go-ahead home run in the ninth inning in Colorado earlier this season, hit an RBI single in the Phillies' comeback win over Florida last Friday, and also hit a solo home run to break up a no-hitter in the eighth inning against Milwaukee last week.

After working a 3-1 count last night, Stairs thought he was going to get a chance to drive a pitch to rightfield and tie the game.

"We always have that feeling," he said. "I thought I was going to get a chance to drive a ball and Kip made a good pitch, took something off his fastball and made a good spot of it. Next time I'll think right-center instead of right."

The Phillies were in desperation mode thanks to a strong outing by lefthander Scott Olsen, a familiar foe who joined the Nationals in an offseason trade after 4 years with the Marlins.

Shane Victorino extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a solo home run in the first inning, but the next eight frames were a tale of opportunities unrealized. The Phillies had the bases loaded with one out in the fourth inning and failed to score. Pedro Feliz hit a fly ball to medium leftfield, but with Ryan Howard at third, coach Sam Perlozzo elected to hold him. Chris Coste then grounded out on a nice play by third baseman Ryan Zimmerman.

"The big thing that was good about [Olsen] was he threw strike one," Manuel said. "He got ahead of the hitters. He threw strike one a lot, especially early."

Righthander Brett Myers pitched well enough to win, allowing three runs on eight hits in six innings, but issued all three of his walks in the third inning. After giving up a double to eight-hole hitter Anderson Hernandez, he walked Olsen and later Nick Johnson and Zimmerman, the last of which scored a run. Myers gave up his other two runs in the sixth inning on singles by Elijah Dukes and Hernandez.

"I got a little bit upset with myself too much with missing my spots and stuff like that," Myers said. "I let it get to me a little bit."

The Phillies have an off day today before starting a three-game series with the Mets.

They will end April with an 11-9 record. *

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 30, 2009

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