Phillies' offense feeble in loss to Pirates


PITTSBURGHTheres no O in Phillies.

And there hasnt been for a while.

The Phillies turned in another feeble offensive performance Saturday night, but this time the pitching couldnt make up for it. They were beaten, 2-1 (see instant replay), by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the second game of the season. The 10-inning loss came 48 hours after the Phils eked out a 1-0 win over the Pirates behind Roy Halladay and Jonathan Papelbon in Thursdays season opener.

So far, all the concerns about the Phillies offense have proven legitimate. They have played 19 innings and scored two runs.

Not good, Hunter Pence said. Weve got to find a way to get runs and we will. Were going to do better. Were going to score more than one run, more than two every 19 innings, I can almost guarantee that.

The Phillies offensive struggles have been going on for some time. They have scored just three runs in their last 36 innings dating to Game 4 of last years NLDS against St. Louis.

And Chase Utley and Ryan Howard were in the lineup for 17 of those innings.

In the first two games of the new season, the Phils have 15 hits14 singles and a double. It never sits well with manager Charlie Manuel when his team doesnt hit. Deep down inside hes probably steaming, but outwardly he showed some patience Saturday night.

Weve played two games, Manuel said. Weve got work to do. Im always concerned about our hitting. If we were to hit .300 as a team, Id want us to hit .300.

The lack of offensive punch is forcing the Phillies to try to manufacture more runs instead of waiting for the big hit. They actually did that in the first inning Saturday night as Shane Victorino and Placido Polanco opened the game with singles against Pittsburgh starter Jeff Karstens. Jimmy Rollins, the Phils No. 3 hitter, followed with a sacrifice bunthe did it on his ownand Pence followed that with an RBI single.

The Phils failed to build on that lead. In fact, they had just two singles the next eight innings.

With the game tied at 1-1 in the ninth, the Phils tried to play some small ball after a leadoff walk by Pence, but Laynce Nix popped up a bunt attempt. Nix did not attempt a sacrifice bunt with Washington last yearhe had previously been good on four of five tries in his careerbut told Manuel he could do it.

No excuse, he said. Ive got to get that down.

Pence ended up stealing second but died there when pinch-hitter Jim Thome and No. 8 hitter Freddy Galvis struck out against Joel Hanrahan. The rookie is 0 for 8 in his first two big-league games.

The Phils got two more runners on base in the 10th, but Juan Cruz slammed the door by striking out Pence to end the threat.

I need to shorten up and do a better job with runners in scoring position, Pence said.

Looking for someone who could pitch multiple innings, Manuel went to Joe Blanton in the bottom of the 10th. Pittsburgh catcher Rod Barajas greeted Blanton with a booming double off the top of the centerfield wall. The Pirates followed with a sacrifice bunt, a hit batsman and a two-out single in pushing across the winning run.

Cliff Lee pitched solidly for six innings, but with little offensive support had no margin for error. He hurt himself by wild-pitching home the tying run with two outs in the sixth inning. Lee bounced a first-pitch curveball to Andrew McCutchen, allowing Yamaico Navarro to score. The Phils got a favorable bounce off the backstop and nearly had a play on Navarro at the plate, but Lee couldnt handle Carlos Ruiz throw.

It happened fast and I didnt see the throw well, Lee said.

Heres something else that wasnt easily seen Saturday night: The Phils offense.

Vance Worley gets the ball Sunday. Will he get more than one run of support?

E-mail Jim Salisbury at

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