By Chris Murray
For the CM Report
All it took was one bad inning and a misguided slider that hung over the plate for a grand-slam homerun by the No. 8 hitter in the Florida Marlins lineup for the Phillies to be buried in a five-run hole from which they never recovered.
The Phillies managed to make a game of it, but in the end did not have enough firepower to pull out a win as the Marlins came away with a narrow 6-5 win in front of 45, 523 fans at Citizen’s Bank Park.
Even on a night where starting pitcher Roy Oswalt was having problems staying ahead of hitters , he only trailed 2-1 coming into that fateful sixth inning. But then he gave up three straight singles to the Marlins Greg Dobbs, Gabby Sanchez, and Mike Cameron.
The final blow of the inning came was a grand-slam homerun by catcher John Buck to give Florida what looked to be an insurmountable 6-1 lead. Manuel said Oswalt, who gave up six runs on 12 hits in five and two-thirds innings of work, had trouble with getting first pitch strikes and with location.
“It also looked like he was having a hard time getting the ball inside on the guys or he wouldn’t get nothing when he threw in there. That’s basically what I saw,” Manuel said afterward. “When he’s aggressive, he gets ahead in the count. Tonight, he was having trouble throwing a first pitch strike.”
Oswalt said for him it came to down the one bad pitch he threw to Buck in the sixth inning. He said he didn’t he think he had any problems with his velocity, but he was having problems getting his slider over for strikes.
“The slider kinda came back over the plate and it didn’t come down like I needed it to,” Oswalt said. “My other pitches wasn’t what they needed to be. My changeup was okay, but I threw more sliders than normal. I threw some close pitches here and there, I was missing up (in the strike zone). I been working on my sliders a little bit. It felt decent in the (bullpen), but in the game it started getting flat.”
For about five and two-thirds innings, the Phillies could not solve Florida starting pitcher, Clay Hensley (2-5), who held the Phillies to just one hit, a solo-homerun by Phillies shortstop Wilson Valdez in the third inning.
“(Hensley)was throwing slow breaking at 68 miles per hour, he had an 80-81 change up and an 86-mile per fast ball. We had trouble getting to him,” Manuel said. “He was moving the ball around and he was mixing his pitches up. He was mostly slow to us. He attacked us with secondary slow stuff.”
The Phillies finally got to Hensley in the sixth. A two-out three-homerun by Ryan Howard cut the Marlins to 6-4.
In the ninth, the Phillies got a one-out RBI double from Michael Martinez, who came into the game for Wilson Valdez during a double switch in the sixth inning. His hit cut the lead to 6-5. With Martinez at second with just one out, Shane Victorino flied out to left and third baseman Placido Polanco ground out to short to end the Phillies rally and the game.