No matter where you looked on Sunday, you couldn’t have liked what you saw. Even before the game started, something didn’t seem right. Ross Gload and Wilson Valdez in the starting lineup? Clearly, this was not the same group that has piled up runs the past four years.
And after the game began, there were more troubling sights. Kyle Kendrick reverted back to the shaky pitcher who struggled in his first two starts of the season, and the bullpen again revealed itself to be short on the shutdown arms needed in tight games.
The result was an 8-6 loss to the Diamondbacks emblematic of most of the Phillies’ problems this season.
After Greg Dobbs – another component of a lineup that many Phillies fans never want to see again – put the Phils on top with a two-run homer in the first, Kendrick managed to scrape by through four innings despite loading the bases in the second and putting two on in the fourth. But in the fifth it all caught up with him. Kelly Johnson launched a two-run homer – his fourth of the series – before Mark Reynolds slugged a bomb to one of the deepest parts of the park to give the Diamondbacks a 5-3 lead.
The lineup still did have enough juice to muster a rally, with Carlos Ruiz’s two-out, two-run single off starter Rodrigo Lopez putting the Phillies up 6-5 in the sixth. But the bullpen – which also bears little resemblance to the one that helped carry the Phillies to the last three NL East titles – simply couldn’t hold the lead. Danys Baez (6.43 ERA) allowed a leadoff double to Chris Young in the seventh, and he scored on a bad-hop single over first base by John Hester.
In the eighth, David Herndon (7.04 ERA) was momentarily saved by a stellar relay throw from Valdez to Ruiz to get Stephen Drew at home. But Herndon allowed an RBI double to Reynolds, the next batter. Then Young singled in a run to pad the lead, and the Phillies went quietly in the ninth.
The Phillies had a chance to grab some wins in this series against the D’backs, but thanks to struggles both on the mound and at the plate, they barely managed to steal one win, falling to 3-3 on a road trip where their record could easily be 5-1 or 6-0. Too bad, too, because the Giants’ Jonathan Sanchez and Tim Lincecum are waiting in the next series.