Friday, April 20, 2007

Phils blow another one

By Sean Pollard
The Phanatic Magazine

Scott Hatteberg homered off Tom Gordon with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game and Brandon Phillips hit a bases-loaded single in the 10th off the Phillies closer to win it as Cincinnati rallied to beat Philadelphia, 2-1.

With the Phillies one out away from their first wining streak of the season, Hatteberg smoked a 3-1 offering from Gordon (0-1) over the right field wall to tie the game. It was Cincinnati's second hit of the game.

Gordon stayed on for the 10th and continued to struggle. After striking out pinch-hitter Jeff Conine, Gordon walked pinch-hitter Javier Valentin, gave up a hit to Ryan Freel and walked Adam Dunn to load the bases. Phillips then roped a single to left field that won it for Cincinnati.

Jon Coutlangus (1-0) tossed a scoreless 10th inning to pick up his first major league win for the Reds, who put the brakes on a two-game skid. Cincinnati starter Kyle Lohse gave up just one unearned run and six hits through seven innings, striking out four and walking one.

Jon Lieber, meanwhile, made a successful return to the starting rotation for Philadelphia, giving up just one hit in 5 2/3 innings. He also struck out five and walked just one batter.

The off-season signing of Adam Eaton gave the Phillies six starting pitchers and Lieber was voted the odd-man out in spring training. Lieber, however, struggled in two relief appearances and Phillies manager Charlie Manuel elected to send opening day starter Brett Myers to the bullpen and bring Lieber back to the rotation.

The Phillies, who had postseason aspirations in the offseason, but currently have the worst record in the NL at 4-11, were without reigning NL MVP Ryan Howard for the second consecutive game. Howard suffered a sprained ligament in his left knee during Philadelphia's 13-inning loss to Washington on Wednesday.

After Abraham Nunez's double-play groundout squandered a bases-loaded opportunity for the Phillies in the fourth inning, Philadelphia struck first in the fifth thanks to a Cincinnati fielding miscue.

Carlos Ruiz led off the inning with a single to center and Lieber followed with a line drive off Dunn at first. The ball bounced off Dunn's glove and to Phillips, who unleashed a wild throw to second base that allowed Ruiz to score.

Cincinnati threatened in the sixth as Freel reached base and rounded for second base on Nunez's errant throw to first. Lieber's pickoff attempt to second base then sailed into left field, allowing Freel to scoot to third.

Lieber then struck out Dunn and Manuel decided that Lieber's pitch count was up and he removed his starter after 77 pitches. Alex Gonzalez had the only hit off Lieber, a double in the third.

Manuel, though, wasn't down making moves in the inning as Geoff Geary entered the game and walked Phillips. Manuel then replaced Geary with southpaw Matt Smith, who walked Josh Hamilton to load the bases. This time, Manuel turned to Antonio Alfonseca and he was able to get Edwin Encarnacion to ground into a fielder's choice to get out of the inning.

Alfonseca stayed on to toss a scoreless seventh and Myers threw a scoreless eighth before Hatteberg's blast off Gordon forced extra innings.

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