Saturday, July 7, 2012

Phils fall to Braves again


PHILADELPHIA — About that spark the Phillies were supposed to get when Chase Utley, then Ryan Howard, returned to active duty.

Maybe those pieces of flint are marked “Do Not Ignite Until 2013,” because there is no sign of any added life, or much hope, as the Phils have a chance to have 50 losses as they listlessly enter the All-Star break.

With Joe Blanton pitching like the same borderline big-leaguer he basically has been for the last three seasons, and the offense still showing no proclivity for making a late-game rally, the Phillies lost again to Atlanta, 6-3, guaranteeing they will not win a series for the fifth straight time.
Brian McCann circles the bases on Saturday

It was a typical Blanton performance — there was a home run (a booming shot by Brian McCann) that staked Atlanta a 1-0 lead. The Phillies responded with three runs in the bottom of the second, the second of which scored when Hunter Pence — who seems to be setting some unofficial record for flaky plays in a season — had to overcome a bizarre rounding of third base that sent him colliding into third-base coach Juan Samuel.

Still, the Phillies had a 3-1 lead, and Pence’s teammates had a rare moment to laugh a little. That moment didn’t last long.

Blanton was touched for another run in the third, then in the fourth when Pence’s lousy throw helped fuel a two-run rally by Atlanta, as it took a 4-3 lead.

Tommy Hanson, meanwhile, settled down after the rough second inning. The right-handed moose worked into the eighth despite a brutally hot evening. He got help from rookie shortstop Aldrelton

Simmons, who made a couple of incredible plays that make you think he could get a Gold Glove when this season is over.

Howard, who made his first appearance of the season with the Phils Friday night, was out of the starting lineup for this one. He’ll start at first base in the final game before the All-Star break Sunday afternoon. But the Phillies are 1-9 since Utley returned. It makes you wonder what difference they could really make.


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