Sunday, June 29, 2008

Phils Lose Sixth Consecutive Series

Tonight's game marked the end of interleague play, which the Phillies can only be grateful for. They celebrated by dropping yet another game to an American League foe, falling to the Rangers 5-1.

Texas took an early lead against the Phillies, scoring a run in the first inning as Ian Kinsler tripled and Michael Young scored him on a groundout. The Rangers would score another run in each of the next two innings to take a 3-0 lead.

Meanwhile, the Phillies were unable to respond against Texas rookie Eric Hurley. Hurley held the Phillies scoreless until the sixth inning, when Ryan Howard drove in Chase Utley on an RBI single. Playing it safe, Texas then went to the bullpen and Jamey Wright retired Greg Dobbs to end the threat. Hurley only lasted 5 2/3 innings, but in that time he held the Phillies to just one run on five hits and two walks.

From there, the Texas bullpen took care of business, as Wright, Eddie Guardado, and C.J. Wilson threw 3.1 near-perfect innings, the only blunder being an error by Kinsler that allowed Shane Victorino to reach base. Meanwhile, the Phillies bullpen stumbled, as Ryan Madson allowed two runs in the eighth inning that put the game out of reach.

Hurley picked up his first major league win and the Phillies left Texas with plenty of questions and a slim division lead. Perhaps there will be some comfort in returning to the National League, but the schedule doesn't get any easier. The Phillies head to Atlanta next for a three-game set, then go home to face the Mets, Cardinals, and Diamondbacks.

Florida is breathing down the Phillies' necks, but they have more than the Marlins to worry about now. The Braves and Mets are within four games of first place. The only bright side to this is that the main problem hasn't been the pitching. The offense has been slumping badly (though Utley seems to have broken out of it) and even when the starters do throw a good game, they haven't gotten run support. Take Jamie Moyer, tonight's starter. He had another solid three earned run or fewer start, but has now lost three straight games.

Fortunately for the Phillies, the next two series are against teams with starting pitching problems. The Braves and Mets rotations could certainly help jump-start the Phillies offense. At least they had better hope it does.

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