Oct 212010
Phillies RHP Joe Blanton

Phillies RHP Joe Blanton

October 21 delcotimes.com:

SAN FRANCISCO — For an inning, they showed a pulse.

The Phillies offense, aligned with All-Stars at every position in the lineup — except their eighth spot, where there only .300 hitter resides — broke out Sunday night at Citizens Bank Park. They gave Roy Oswalt enough support for a victory that put the team back into the National League Championship Series after two games.

But the aforementioned star-studded lineup has underachieved throughout the season. Somewhere over the continental United States, on the sleep-deprived, red-eye flight from South Philly to San Francisco, the offense the Phils found Sunday disappeared before Game 3 Tuesday at AT&T Park.

For the 12th time this season, Charlie Manuel watched his bats get blanked. Matt Cain and the San Francisco Giants put themselves back in control of the series and the visiting bats went flat in a 3-0 Phils defeat in Game 3 of the NLCS.

Cole Hamels wasn’t able to match Cain, but probably pitched well enough for a better fate, much like Roy Halladay in Game 1.

“If you don’t hit, it doesn’t matter how good the pitching is,” Shane Victorino said. “So you can’t blame our pitching right now. We need to find a way. Cole gave up three runs today and we scored nothing.”

The Phils, trailing 2-1 in the series, face a sizable task in the next two days: beat rookie left-hander Madison Bumgarner, whom they’ve never faced, or two-time reigning Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum, or else go home one win away from elimination.

Lose to both and the Phillies won’t return to Citizens Bank Park until 2011. The Phils are sending well-rested Joe Blanton to the mound in Game 4, with Halladay, Oswalt and Hamels aligned for the rest of the series.

But the pitching-rich Phils may be done in by their hollow bats before they get a chance to get back to Oswalt or Hamels.

“Our guys are trying… maybe they’re trying too hard,” Manuel said. “When you don’t score any runs, you don’t get (enough) hits, it’s hard to win the game. But I don’t know what we’re going to do about it. I can sit here and talk about it. I can go in and talk to them about it, but when the game starts (Wednesday) is when we can do something about it.”

Cain, who came into the afternoon with a 6.23 ERA in five career starts against the Phillies, silenced the star-studded lineup for seven innings. He allowed two singles: a single to center by Carlos Ruiz in the third and a shift-friendly opposite fielder blooper off the bat of Ryan Howard with one out in the fourth.

That was the extent of the Phils offense. They were no-hit until Jimmy Rollins hit a one-out single in the ninth.

“We usually do pretty good off of him but today he had some good stuff, he was moving the ball around,” Rollins said of Cain. “He gave up a hit and then a walk and he always got that last out, and that’s the most important one.”

After Howard’s hit in the fourth, Cain walked Jayson Werth. But Rollins flew out and Raul Ibanez struck out. Inning over.

In the seventh, Carlos Ruiz and pinch hitter Ross Gload tried to generate a two-out rally when the first was hit by a pitch and the second worked a walk. But Victorino grounded out to second to quiet any chance of the Phillies ending their offensive drought.

The Phils will reboot and hope to have more (any?) success tonight in Game 4 against Bumgarner (7-6, 3.00 ERA).

“It’s a matter of putting a game plan together and executing it,” said Chase Utley, who was 0-for-4 Tuesday. “We’re capable of doing something.”

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