Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Mets pound struggling Phillies

NEW YORK – Just before boarding a plane out of Miami International bound for the Big Apple on Sunday, the Phillies spoke confidently about the half a season that remained.
Despite an underachieving, sometimes difficult to watch first half, they said there was time to make a run. Despite a gluttony of injuries, they saw one All-Star return last week and see two others close to rejoining the team, too.
But their words rang hollow 48 hours later. A veteran Phillies team built to win a World Series is instead on a fast path from contender to pretender.

Vance Worley was tagged for four runs in his first two innings and was gone after four innings as the Phillies dropped an 11-1 defeat to the New York Mets Tuesday night.
“My (pregame) bullpen went well and I felt really good out there today,” Worley said. “It just didn’t go my way. My last couple outings I had worse control and got away with it. I was just trying to get the ball into play early and they hit the ball.”
The loss was the sixth straight for the reeling Phils, tying a season-high.
Meanwhile, rehabbing first baseman Ryan Howard went 2-for-3 with a home run and four RBIs at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Although Howard isn’t due back until after the break, would an early return for the slugger give the sluggish Phils a jolt?
“We’ll see where he’s at, he’s progressing,” manager Charlie Manuel said. “But he’s not going to make a difference at 11-1, unless he has a hell of a night.”
Beginning with their first six-game losing streak, a month ago at Citizens Bank Park, the Phillies have lost 21 of their last 29 games. The Phils (36-46) are a season-high 10 games under .500.
It’s the first time a Phillies team has been 10 games under since July 22, 2002, exactly a week before they sent Scott Rolen and Doug Nickle to the St. Louis Cardinals for Placido Polanco, Bud Smith and Mike Timlin. The 2002 season was also the last that ended with the Phillies owning a losing record.
Flash forward 10 years later, to 2012, when the Phillies haven’t had a winning record in over a month, when they were 28-27 on June 3.
Riding a five-game losing streak, the Phils appeared to have the right man on the mound Tuesday. Vance Worley had been the team’s best pitcher in what was a mostly forgettable June for the starting rotation.
But with the way the season has gone, it probably wasn’t much of a surprise when Worley rolled out his worst start of the season.
Worley gave up six runs on 10 hits in four innings. The six runs were the most Worley had allowed in a game since giving up six in a 9-8 win at Dodger Stadium last August.
Worley, who had a 2.70 ERA in five starts since returning from a three-week stint with elbow soreness, needed 11 pitches to get Ruben Tejada, the first batter of the first inning, out. His night wouldn’t get any easier.
The second batter (Daniel Murphy) tripled and the third (David Wright) grounded out to bring in the game’s first run. Carlos Ruiz, one of the few bright spots of a dull first half, tied the game a half inning later with his 12th home run of the season, a solo shot to left.
But Worley gave that run back – and two more, too – in the very next inning. Worley walked Lucas Duda to begin a fifth inning that saw the Mets score three times on five hits and a walk to take a 4-1 lead.
Worley’s struggles wouldn’t end there, either. In the fourth, he gave up back-to-back, two-out hits to Tejada and Murphy.
With the Phils facing a 6-1 deficit after four innings, Worley’s night was over. It was just the third time in 13 starts this season that Worley had allowed more than three runs.
“He keeps you in the game and most times gives you a chance to win,” Manuel said. “Tonight, they got on him. They were hitting the balls and they were hitting the balls hard. He got hurt. He gave up a lot of runs early and it kind of took us right out of the game.”
The Phillies bullpen, mostly a mix of rookies and Triple-A arms, couldn’t stop the Mets either.
After a scoreless fifth, Raul Valdez walked pitcher Jonathon Niese with one out in the sixth before giving up a single to Tejada, the third hit for the Mets’ leadoff hitter. Brian Sanches was summoned in to face Wright.
Wright worked a full count before dropping a 420-foot bomb to dead center. The All-Star third baseman’s three-run home run sucked whatever life remained in the Phillies bench.
Niese, meanwhile, allowed one run on three hits in eight innings.
The Phillies haven’t scored more than two runs in a game since they left Citizens Bank Park last week. They have scored seven runs in their last four games.
“I thought we hit some balls hard, but they caught every one of them,” Manuel said, referring to at least three hard line drives stabbed down by Mets infielders. “Outside that, give Niese credit; he pitched a good game.”


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