Monday, June 6, 2011

Phils snap skid behind Doc

The Phillies snapped their four-game losing streak with a 7-3 victory in the series finale against Pittsburgh.

Once again, the Phillies struggled at PNC Park, dropping two of three after losing two of three in Washington.

Roy Halladay picked up his eighth win, tossing seven solid innings, allowing two runs on six hits, one walks and six strikeouts. Both runs came on Neil Walker's eighth homer of the year, a two-run shot in the first inning.

It was a rather strange game and things appeared to be, yet again, going against the Phils in the fourth.

After Chase Utley and Ryan Howard led-off the inning with walks and advanced on a passed ball, Raul Ibanez got the Phils on the board with a sacrifice fly, which also moved Howard to third. Carlos Ruiz was hit by a pitch, putting runners at the corners with one out. Domonic Brown followed with a scorching line drive up the middle and into center field, as Howard trotted home to tie the game.

The only problem: the second base umpire couldn't get out of the way and it was ruled a dead ball. Even though it was clearly going into center field, the play is automatically ruled a dead ball, Brown is awarded first and Ruiz is awarded second, but Howard has to stay at third. Wilson Valdez followed with an inning ending double-play.

This is something MLB should take a look at. In fairness to the game, that play should be at the umpire's discretion. Howard clearly would have scored, and should have been able to go home from third. If there was any question, that's a different story. But on a play like that, where the ball has already split the infielders, it's obvious that Howard would have no trouble scoring.

It's different if Howard were on second. They can't determine if the ball hadn't deflected if the outfielder would have gotten to it more quickly (which he most likely would), and been able to throw a runner out trying to score from second. They also can't determine if Ruiz would have been able to go from first to third. But on a simple play like a runner scoring from third, that's a terrible rule to call it a dead ball.

Fortunately, the bad luck didn't hurt the Phillies. They took the lead in the fifth, without recording a hit; thanks to three walks to start the inning, a Howard sac fly and Ruiz being hit by another pitch to score a second run.

The Phils had a 3-2 lead and never looked back, tacking on another run in the sixth, one in the eighth and two in the ninth.

Ryan Madson worked a scoreless frame in the ninth, pitching for the first time in nearly a week. He wasn't as sharp as usual, but he allowed just one hit and struck out two.

The Phillies' long road trip is over, and a ten game home-stand begins tonight with the LA Dodgers in town. Here are the probables:

Tonight: Ted Lilly (4-4 4.22) vs. Cliff Lee (4-5 3.94)

Tuesday: Rubby De La Rosa (Making first Major League start- 1-0 1.80) vs. Roy Oswalt (3-3 2.70)

Wednesday: Hiroki Kuroda (5-6 3.46) vs. Cole Hamels (7-2 2.83)

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