Astros sweep swooning Phillies

 Posted by at 1:03 am
Aug 282010

Phillies RHP Kyle Kendrick

August 27 Philadelphia Daily News

CHARLIE MANUEL sees it, too.

He sees the lack of urgency, the lack of focus, which earmarks teams without much future. But future, the Phillies have.

Even after a four-game sweep at the hands of the Astros, finished by yesterday’s 5-1 loss. The idle Braves remained well in reach, three games ahead in the NL East. The Phils stayed a half-game behind the idle Giants in the NL wild-card race.

The Phillies play their next three games in San Diego. The Padres don’t score much, but they have the best earned-run average in the majors – which means, to win, they do little things very well.

That means retaining focus. Staying sharp.

“You’re supposed to know the situations in the game,” Manuel said. “You get lackadaisical.”

Did Manuel witness lackadaisical play the past four games – the first four-game sweep of the Phils in the 7-year history of Citizens Bank Park?

“I saw a hell of a lot of it,” the manager replied.

The series, in which the Phillies scored just seven runs, will be remembered most for the combative umpiring of Greg Gibson and Scott Barry.

In the first game of the series, Gibson, at first base, did not call Michael Bourn out when Bourn seemed to clearly and egregiously leave the baseline. In the second game of the series, Barry, pugnacious and mocking, goaded Ryan Howard into an ejection in the 14th inning.

But Howard, with no position players available on the bench, indulgently bit on Barry’s bait.

Besides, the umpires didn’t cost the Phillies scoring chances. Jayson Werth was picked off second base in the first game, on Monday. Ben Francisco was picked off third base in the third game, on Wednesday.

“There’s no reason to make a mental mistake. Not a lot of them,” Manuel said.

Mentally, yesterday, the Phillies cost themselves little. It was more their mediocre starting pitching and their continued offensive futility.

Kyle Kendrick (8-7) gave up runs in each of the first four innings. He lasted six innings, but now he has allowed four or more runs in three of his last four starts.

Kendrick’s biggest mistake came against pitcher Wandy Rodriguez, a solid hitter whom Kendrick faced with a man on third and one out in the fourth. Kendrick grooved a 1-0 pitch that Rodriguez crushed.

“It was a fastball, right down the middle,” Rodriguez said. “I swung the bat very good.”

He threw the ball even better.

Rodriguez rode a diving changeup through seven strong innings to move to 10-12, his first win in five starts. He held the Phils hitless through four and struck out Howard twice.”

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