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News » Park struggles again as Phillies fall to Mets

Park struggles again as Phillies fall to Mets

Park struggles again as Phillies fall to Mets

Pitching coach Rich Dubee mentioned those two words earlier this week when attempting to explain his faith in a staff of starters who ended April with the worst ERA in the National League. Indeed, the recent history of four-fifths of the rotation - Cole Hamels, Brett Myers, Jamie Moyer and Joe Blanton have produced relatively consistent results over the last three seasons - suggests they will shake their early season struggles.

The one exception, however, was on the mound last night, and he did not do much to shake lingering questions about whether he can make it through an entire season as a big-league starter for the first time since 2005.

Righthander Chan Ho Park, who won the fifth spot in the rotation thanks to a scintillating spring, struggled throughout his fourth start of the season, going 4 2/3 innings and allowing seven runs and six walks - two intentional - in a 7-4 loss to the Mets.

Afterward, manager Charlie Manuel said the team would sit down and re-evaluate its pitching situation, although he would not go so far as to label Park's job in jeopardy.

"Our pitching is something we'll talk over," Manuel said. "Dubee and I will sit down and [talk] . . . I'm not ready to say Chan Ho Park is not going to get any more starts. I'm not ready to say that."

The Phillies have several options, should they decide - now or in the future - that Park is best suited for the bullpen, where he resurrected his career last season with the Dodgers. Manuel said those options would factor into the decisions he and Dubee ultimately make.

Lefthander J.A. Happ, who narrowly lost a spring-training battle for the fifth spot in the rotation, pitched two scoreless innings of relief last night and lowered his ERA to 3.52. Two other candidates who were involved in that four-way spring competition have pitched well at Triple A Lehigh Valley. Righthander Kyle Kendrick is 2-1 with a 2.77 ERA in five starts, while righthander Carlos Carrasco, the organization's top pitching prospect, struck out eight in 4 2/3 innings last night while allowing two runs. Carrasco started the year with three quality starts before allowing six runs in 2 2/3 innings on April 26.

Park, who has lasted longer than five innings in only one of his four starts and has an 8.57 ERA, shrugged off the prospect of losing his starting job.

"That's not my decision," said the righthander, who signed with the Phillies in the offseason after spending most of 2008 as a reliever in Los Angeles. "All I can do is try to be better."

Last night, Park bore little resemblance to the pitcher who struck out 25 and walked only two in spring training. After allowing a two-run home run to Mets outfielder Daniel Murphy in the first inning, Park said he lost some confidence in his fastball. He allowed runs in four of the five innings in which he appeared.

"He's been inconsistent," Manuel said. "He's had a rough going."

The Phillies had some success off Mets righthander Mike Pelfrey, getting a two-run single from Raul Ibanez and an RBI single from Pedro Feliz in the third inning. But they missed out on a major scoring opportunity in the sixth, when Greg Dobbs sprinted toward third on a throwing error by shortstop Jose Reyes, only to find Chris Coste holding there. With Dobbs caught in a rundown, Coste ran home and was tagged out. Instead of bases loaded with one out, the Phillies had men on second and third with two outs. Shane Victorino then flied out to end the inning.

The decision to remain at third on Reyes' poorly thrown ball that skipped past third baseman David Wright and rolled toward the visiting dugout was Coste's. Manuel said Dobbs has the responsibility to monitor the baserunner in front of him. Coste said he did not think he had a good chance at scoring on the play.

"I'm not real fast," Coste said. "If I got thrown out at the plate trying to go home, it would have been a mistake."

Although Chase Utley hit his eighth home run of the season in the seventh inning, the Phillies were unable to rally against the Mets' new setup/closer combination of J.J. Putz and Francisco Rodriguez.

After the game, though, the focus was on Park's struggles.

"I think you have to show patience," Manuel said. "But I think our pitching definitely has to get better."

Manuel did give Park a strong vote of confidence. But he also said that no decisions have been made.

"As we go along, we'll make adjustments," Manuel said. "We'll do things we have to do to make it better."

PhillersCloser Brad Lidge, who has been sidelined with inflammation in his right knee, threw a bullpen session and said he will be available to pitch starting today . . . Lefthander Jack Taschner missed the start of the game while his wife gave birth to a baby girl . . . Lefthander Cole Hamels (ankle) did not throw a scheduled bullpen session yesterday, but will try to do so today. *

For more Phillies coverage and opinion, read David Murphy's blog, High Cheese, at

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: May 2, 2009

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