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No Relief in Sight


No Relief in Sight
The Phillies game in front of another sellout crowd at Citizens Bank Park yesterday looked similar to quite a few last season when Cole Hamels was on the mound.

Terrific pitching.

Not much support.

The lanky lefthander put the hard-luck start he had in April further back in his rearview mirror with seven strong innings. He gave up one earned run, struck out nine, and dropped his earned run average to 1.56 over his last three starts. His performance came against the Los Angeles Dodgers, who have the best record in the game.

Yet the Phils went down, 5-3, in 10 innings because just about everything else collapsed around Hamels at critical junctures. Afterward, they had to board a train to the nation's capital carrying the baggage that comes with having lost six of their last eight games after going 2-4 during the homestand.

And since President Obama is dealing with his own problems, the Phillies probably won't get much help from him today when they visit the White House, where they will be honored as World Series champions.

"Right now, we're not playing good," manager Charlie Manuel said after run-scoring doubles by Russell Martin and Matt Kemp in the 10th inning decided the issue. "We're not hitting the ball good. We're just not putting it together.

"It's just not there right now. We've got to get after it a little more. We've got to bring it a little better."

The lack of hitting wasn't the only problem, although the Phillies managed only five hits - just one from the top five batters in the lineup. They weren't the first team to be handled by Dodgers righthander Chad Billingsley, who won his sixth game.

"We haven't been able to get it going lately," said Ryan Howard, who went 0 for 4.

But Howard reminded everyone that it's a long season and that if there's any angst in the clubhouse over the team's 16-16 record and wildly erratic play, he doesn't sense it. After all, he said, the Phils have been down this road before with so-so starts. They were 18-14 at this time last season and in first place by a half-game. They went into yesterday a game behind the New York Mets.

"Right now, we know we haven't been playing our best ball," Howard said. "We know we've been playing up and down, but we're in the middle of May, and being 16-16 and - what - a game out of first place? I think anybody would take that.

"We have been in this situation before. We know what we need to do to try to get out of it. We've been in this situation before in April and May, and all it matters [is] where you are in September. I don't think anybody is really worried right now."

The fielding, which has been darn near impeccable, was not up to the Phillies' standard yesterday. There was a costly base-running mistake. And relievers Brad Lidge and Chad Durbin didn't do the job in the final two innings.

The Dodgers scored a run to make it 1-1 when a grounder went off Jimmy Rollins' glove in the third inning. The Phils had Billingsley in some trouble in the fifth when Hamels wandered too far off first and got trapped in a rundown after Shane Victorino struck out. Carlos Ruiz took off for home and also got caught in a rundown before he was tagged out to end the inning.

Ruiz sent the game into extra innings when he ripped a two-run double with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. It would have been a game-winner had Lidge not allowed a run in the top of the ninth. And Ruiz's clutch hit became moot when the Dodgers scored two runs off Durbin with two outs in the 10th.

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 15, 2009

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