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Phillies offense comes up small

Phillies offense comes up small
National League teams are supposed to score runs with walks, hit-and-runs, base hits and bunts.

Looks like someone needs to tell the Phillies that.

Both of their runs on Saturday came via the long ball. They had just one single, no stolen bases and eight strikeouts in their 6-2 loss to Javier Vazquez and the Atlanta Braves at Citizens Bank Park.

Combine that with Friday's game and their lack of small ball is even more glaring.

On Friday, of the six earned runs they came up with, four scored on home runs. Just two of their eight hits were singles, both of which came in the eighth inning.

That makes for 15 strikeouts and 13 hits (10 of which went for extra bases) in the last two days. No stolen bases. No bunt hits -- or sacrifice bunts for that matter.

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said for his club to make that style of play work, guys such as Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino have to be on base.

But that was a rare occurrence Friday and Saturday. In their last two games, the Phillies' 1-2 punch has been 1-for-18. Chase Utley struck out four times in the last two games. Jayson Werth whiffed twice Saturday.

"The way we play small ball is getting guys on base," Manuel said. "It's hard. If you talk about small ball, it's hard to hit-and-run, especially toward the bottom of our order because of the speed that we've got. Our speed is basically Werth, Utley at times and Jimmy Rollins and [Shane] Victorino. They've got to be getting on base."

In his three previous starts at Citizens Bank Park, the Phillies had little trouble with Vazquez; he was 0-2 with a 7.88 ERA. But Saturday, the Phillies couldn't handle him. At one point, he retired 11 in a row and didn't allow anyone (except those who hit solo homers) to reach third base.

"He's a good pitcher," Phillies left fielder Raul Ibanez said. "What he did really well I think is he got ahead a lot. He threw strike one quite a bit. He changed speeds. He has two or three different speeds on his breaking ball. He had a really good change-up. He was using his fastball up, down, in and out."

The Phillies' starting pitching has to start showing more signs of life. Joe Blanton (1-3) gave up six earned runs on eight hits (including two home runs) in eight innings. That gave the team's starters a 7-10 record and a major-league worst 6.47 ERA.

But Blanton insists it's a trend that won't continue for long.

"I don't think anybody's worried," he said. "I think you can go ask all four other guys. I wouldn't say we don't care, but we know it's a long season and we know what we can do. What is this, our sixth start? That's not very many."

What about the 38 home runs the staff has allowed?

"It's not exactly a pitcher's ballpark we play in, for one," he said. "Two, that's just sometimes how the season starts. It's a long season. Check back at the end of the year. It might be different. It might be the same. You never know. You keep making pitches. You try to keep the ball on the ground everywhere, no matter if it's a hitter's park or a pitcher's park."

Utley's solo homer in the fourth tied the score at 1, but Blanton gave the Braves the lead right back in the fifth on back-to-back doubles and Yunel Escobar's two-run shot, which made it a 4-1 game. The Braves tacked on two more in the eighth when Brian McCann hit a two-run homer.

The Phillies made it a 6-2 game on Ibanez's home run in the bottom of the eighth.

Utley hit a two-out double in the ninth to provide a flicker of hope, but Ryan Howard grounded out to end the game. He was 0-for-4 on Saturday and 1-for-4 on Friday.


Braves 6

Phillies 2

Looking ahead: Phillies right-hander Brett Myers (2-2, 5.35 ERA) faces Braves righty Kenshin Kawakami (1-4, 6.41) at 12:35 p.m.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: May 12, 2009

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