Chad Durbin for the second straight night allows the Dodgers to tie the score in the eighth inning, before the bullpen finally loses the game in the ninth, this time to a Nomar Garciaparra walk-off home run, as the Phillies’ offense is for the second straight night put to sleep by the Dodgers’ bullpen in the middle innings, after taking what should’ve been an early commanding lead. The Phillies would score four runs in the first on a pair of two-run home runs. After Jayson Werth is rubbed of a home run to right by Andre Ethier for the second out of the inning, Chase Utley would get on base as he is hit by the pitch. Ryan Howard would follow with his league leading thirty-second home run of the year, scoring Utley, for a quick 2-0 lead. Pat Burrell would then get on base with a walk. Greg Dobbs would then follow with his fifth home run of the year, scoring Burrell, to make it 4-0 Phils. The Dodgers would get a run back in their half of the first, when, with the bases loaded, and one out, Phillies’ starter Joe Blanton would give up a walk to James Loney, scoring Ethier, who has gotten on base earlier with a single, would move to second on Jeff Kent’s single and move to third on the walk to Manny Ramirez, making it 4-1 Phillies. Blanton would finally get out of the inning by striking out Casey Blake and getting Garciaparra to fly out to right. The Phillies would add to their lead in the second when, with a man on and two outs, Werth would hit his sixteenth home run of the year, knocking in Carlos Ruiz, who has earlier singled, to give the Phillies a 6-1 lead. That would be all the damage the Phillies would be able to do as the Dodgers’ bullpen, starting in the fourth inning, would give them only one more hit, four walks and a hit batter, while squashing threats in the fifth and sixth innings. In the meantime, the Dodgers would chip away at the Phillies’ lead. It would start in the third as Ramirez, who owns Blanton, would hit his twenty-fifth home run of the year, scoring Kent, who has earlier singled, to reduce the Phillies’ lead to 6-3. Then in the fourth, Blanton would give up another home run, this time a solo shot to Ethier, his twelfth home run of the year, cutting the lead down to 6-4. After Blanton gets out of the fifth inning without any further damage, he hands the ball over to Ryan Madson, who would proceed to get out six of the seven batters he would face in two innings of relief. Chad Durbin is then given the ball so that he can hand it over to Brad Lidge for a save opportunity in the ninth. Sadly, it didn’t happen as Durbin would end up blowing his fourth save of the year. The inning would start with a single by Russell Martin. Durbin would then walk pinch hitter Juan Pierre, putting runners on first and second with nobody outs. Matt Kemp would then line out to Werth for the first out of the inning. The next batter, Ethier, would then hit the ball to Ryan Howard. Instead of throwing to Jimmy Rollins at second to force out Pierre, Howard would instead go to first, not confident that his throw would actually get to Rollins. That lack of confidence would prove costly as Durbin would then give up a two-run double to Kent, tying the score at six all. Durbin would then intentionally walk Ramirez, after getting behind in the count 3-0. That would be it for Durbin, as he is replaced by J.C. Romero. Romero would finally end the inning by getting Loney to ground into a force out, shortstop to third base. In the ninth, with one man out, Clay Condrey would throw a walk-off home run to Garciaparra, his sixth home run of the year, to give the Dodgers a 7-6 walk-off victory.
Joe Blanton gets a no-decision as he pitches five rough innings, giving up four earned runs on nine hits and three walks, while striking out six. Ryan Madson would pitch two strong innings of relief, as he gives up no runs on no hits, and strike out three, while one man reached base on a fielding error. Chad Durbin would blow his fourth save of the year and his second in this series, as he goes two-thirds of an inning, giving up two earned runs on two hits and two walks. J.C. Romero would pitch a third of an inning, getting out the only hitter he would face. Clay Condrey would take the lost as he pitches a third of an inning, giving up an earned run on one hit, Garciaparra’s walk-off home run. His record is now 3-3 with a 3.71 ERA. Brad Penny would also receive a no-decision as he only last three innings, giving up six earned runs on six hits, a hit batter and two walks, while striking out four. Jason Johnson would pitch two and two-thirds innings of shut out ball, giving up one hit and walking two, while striking out five. Joe Beimel would face only two batters, giving up a walk and hitting a batter. Chan Ho Park would pitch two and a third innings of shut out ball, giving up no hits. Jonathan Broxton would get the win as he pitches a 1-2-3 ninth, with two strikeouts. His record is now 3-3 with an ERA of 3.58.
Sigh. It’s becoming a broken record. Offense strikes early, gets nothing going in the middle innings and is unable to get a clutch hit when they do threathen to score. Now the bullpen is getting into the act, as it, or rather Chad Durbin, has now blown two straight save opportunities. Although the main culprit, as always, is the Phillies’ offense, we now add Ryan Howard’s sad defense as well, as his fear of maybe not throwing the ball straight to Jimmy Rollins for a force out causes him to instead go for the sure out at first. Listening to the broadcast crew, it would appear that Jay-Ro did not agree with Howard’s decision. And to be honest, neither do I, since if Ryan had thrown the ball to second and had gotten Juan Pierre out, then the next batter, Jeff Kent, would probably have knocked in only one run with his double. But we will never know for sure since that was not the actual result. It would seem that the offense needs someone or something to break them out of their collective funk, like the Dodgers getting Manny Ramirez have gotten them going. Too bad our cheapskate managment isn’t thinking like that. Double sigh.
The Phillies (64-56, T-1st) will play the final game of their four game set with the Dodgers (61-59, T-1st National League West) tonight. The game will be played at Dodgers Stadium and will start at 10:10 pm Eastern (7:10 pm Pacific). The Phillies’ starter will be Brett Myers (5-9, 5.09), who is coming off a win against the Pirates on August 9, where he went seven and two-thirds innings, giving up only an earned run on five hits, while striking out six, in the Phillies’ 4-2 win. He has pitched rather well since coming back from his stint in the minors, going 2-0 in four starts, with a 2.10 ERA, while the Phils have gone 1-1 in his other two starts. Against the Dodgers in nine starts, he is 3-1 with a 2.76 ERA. He will be looking to make it four good starts in a row while trying to salvage a win in the series for the Phils and keep them in at least a tie for first place in the East. His opponent will be Hiroki Kuroda (6-8, 4.02), who is coming off a no-decision against the Giants on August 9, where he pitched eight innings, giving up only one earned run on eight hits, in the Dodgers’ 3-2 lost. He will be trying to help the Dodgers sweep the Phillies, while keeping them at least tied for first in the West.
The Phillies are now tied for first with the Mets as they defeated the Nationals for the second game in a row, while the two teams both lead the Marlins by a game and a half after the Marlins’ lost to the Cardinals. Their lead over the Braves is at nine games as the Braves were swept by the Cubs in a day/night doubleheader. The Phillies will be trying to salvage a win tonight in LA before they head on to San Diego where they will be facing some more tough pitching, hoping against hope that the offense will finally break out of its year long funk. Otherwise, they will be looking up to see themselves trailing the Mets and being just ahead of the fish in the standings.