Archive | April, 2013

Fading Fast: Flyers Lack of Offense is Killing Their Postseason Chances

12 Apr

By Chris Murray

Claude Giroux scored the only Flyers in the loss to the Ottawa Senators.

Claude Giroux scored the only Flyers in the loss to the Ottawa Senators.

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday

With season dwindling down to just eight games left in the season, the Flyers playoff chances on are on life support and are about to fade to black.

The Flyers are seven points behind the New York Rangers for the final playoff spot in the NHL with three teams ahead of them. From this point forward they have no margin for error.

“I think everyone’s still going to put in a good effort right up to the end. There’s no question about that,” said Flyers defenseman Luke Schenn. “Guys still have a lot to play for, but obviously everybody’s a little bit frustrated.

“I think guys are probably squeezing the stick too tight. Obviously, we’re not scoring very many goals. I know everyone’s working and competing and we’re going to do it to the very end.”

It was another night the Flyers couldn’t get anything going offensively and the Ottawa Senators came away with a 3-1 victory at the Wells Fargo Center Thursday night.

“All losses are tough,” said Flyers coach Peter Laviolette. “We’re in the business of winning hockey games. Not getting that done is frustrating at this point.”

Ottawa got what turned out to be the winning score on a power-play goal by left winger Colin Greening. The Flyers were a man down because of a high-sticking double minor on Claude Giroux whose stick ended up on the face of Ottawa’s Mika Zibanejad.

The Senators added an empty by Daniel Alfredsson in the last 10 seconds of the game.

Not only was it the Flyers third straight loss, it was also the third consecutive game in which they could muster no more than one goal.  In a season that has been hot and cold, it was another frustrating night of not being able to put the puck in the net.

“We got to find a way of getting more pucks to the net, more traffic and we have to be a little bit more  hungry than we are right now,” said Flyers center Claude Giroux. “We’re not getting the job done right now and so we have to figure out something there.”

For a team that was fighting for whatever faint playoff hopes it supposedly has, the Flyers didn’t come out with a sense of urgency in the first period.

Ottawa jumped on the board with a breakaway by center Zack Smith, who took a pass from Mark Methot and slid the puck past goal Ilya Brzygalov. Smith was able to have a clear shot at Brzygalov because the Flyers were in the middle of a line change and simply caught got napping.

With the exception of the two goals, Brzygalov did a good job of guarding the net for the Flyers. He had 31 saves.

But later in the period, the Flyers evened the game at 1-1 with 7:44 left on a short-handed  goal by Claude Giroux who deflected a shot by Simon Gagne past goalie Robin Lehner.

Through the first two periods, the Senators outshot the Flyers 24-14. In the second period, the Flyers had just seven shots on goal. The Flyers picked up the pace in the third period and had 13 shots on goal but couldn’t get anything past Lehner.

The Flyers are 0-for-2 on the power play. On their first opportunity at the beginning of the third period, the Flyers couldn’t get off a shot. On their second midway the period, the Flyers had five shots on goal, but came up short.

“I thought the third period was our best period,” Laviolette said. “It generated the most offense, probably played the tightest defensively that we played that period, but we didn’t get the results we were looking for.”

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Phillies Offense backs up Kendrick in Win Over the Mets

11 Apr

By Chris Murray

Brown's three-homer in Wednesday's win over the Mets sailed over the Budweiser sign into the second deck at Citizen's Bank Park. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Brown’s three-homer in Wednesday’s win over the Mets sailed over the Budweiser sign into the second deck at Citizen’s Bank Park. Photo by Webster Riddick.

For the Chris Murray and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

If you’ve been crying the blues about the Phillies struggles this week—poor starts by Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels, remember that it’s only April and nine games into the season.

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel made it clear that he’s not as worried as some Phillies fans might be at this point in the season.

“So far is a big word,” Manuel said before the game. “You can be hitting .300 and then two days go 0-for-4 and then be hitting .220, .230 and .210. Time will take care of all of these things.”

After losing five of their first seven games, the Phillies (4-5) closed out the first homestand of the year by winning two straight including Wednesday’s 7-3 win over the New York Mets at Citizen’s Bank Park.

“It’s great to get that first series under our belt and just try to carry the momentum to Miami on this road trip,” said Phils first baseman Ryan Howard. “We’ve had a couple of situations where we’ve come up short in games. These last four or five games we’ve been going out there and just swinging.”

The Phillies will embark on a six-game road trip that will take them to Miami and Cincinnati. They will be back at the ball park in South Philly on April 18 when they start a three-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals.

“We definitely need  to play the Marlins and we have to win series and take it one game at a time,” Manuel said.

The Phillies got off to a hot start offensively in the first inning—they got a two-run homer from Chase Utley and a monstrous 3-run shot from Domonic Brown that went over the Budweiser sign and into second deck in right field to give them a 5-0 lead.

“I think we started to get good balls to hit and started swinging the bats good,” Manuel said. “I felt like out hitting picked up because we were leaving runners on base and things like that.  It was just a matter of time we started getting some hits with guys on.”

The Mets would get one back via the long ball on a solo shot by catcher John Buck in the second inning and another solo homer by Lucas Duda in the top of the fourth. The Mets leftfielder would get another solo home run in the eighth off Phils reliever Mike Adams.

Kyle Kendrick wasn’t necessarily the second coming of Cy Young and didn’t necessarily overwhelm Mets hitters.  He gave up solo home runs to catcher John Buck and leftfielder Lucas Duda.  He pitched six innings (105 pitches) and got six strike outs and allowed just two walk while pitching on a tight rope.

“It was important that he took us where we wanted to go,” Manuel said. “He pitched out of some jams. Tonight, he definitely did that tonight.”

But in the midst of his struggles, Kendrick managed to survive a 27-minute rain delay and pitch his way out of some tight jams after seeing his team jump out to a big lead. After Buck’s homer in the second, the Mets loaded the bases with one out.

Kendrick got out of it back striking out pitcher Jeremy Hefner and centerfielder Jordany Valdespin to get out of the inning.

“It’s always nice to get out of jams,” Kendrick said. “You try to minimize the damage and stay away from big innings.”

In the fifth inning, Kendrick gave up a single to Valdespin and walked second baseman David Murphy.  Then he struck out Mets third baseman David Wright for the first out of the inning. While pitching to first baseman Ike Davis, Kendrick uncorked a wild pitch that moved the runners to second and third.

Kendrick managed to get out of the inning thanks to the speed of centerfielder Ben Revere and the dumb base-running of Murphy.  Revere ran down a short fly ball by Davis and then tossed the ball to second to double up Murphy, who didn’t tag up and apparently thought the ball was going to drop.

“That was a big spot in the game,” Kendrick said. “I guess (Davis) thought Ben might not have gotten to it, but I was happy, happy, happy.”

Meanwhile, the offense added a couple of insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth thanks to a two-run homer by pinch hitter Laynce Nix.

 

It’s Time For Men to Respect and Support Women’s Basketball

10 Apr

http://espn.go.com/espnw/commentary/9133781/brittney-griner-nba-offer-false-promise

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report/The Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Baylor's Britany Griner will be the No. 1 pick in the WNBA Draft and could be the league's most compelling figure.

Baylor’s Britany Griner will be the No. 1 pick in the WNBA Draft and could be the league’s most compelling figure.

When the University of Maryland Lady Terrapins defeated the Duke Lady Blue Devils in an overtime thriller for the NCAA’s women’s national basketball title in 2006, it was one of the greatest games of all time, not just in women’s hoops, but in the history of college basketball.

Freshman point guard Kristi Toliver’s miracle three-pointer over Duke’s 6-foot-7 forward Alison Bales in the final seconds to send the game to overtime enabled the Terrapins to come back from a 13-point deficit at halftime.  Freshman Marissa Coleman would sink a pair of free-throws in overtime to pull off an improbable upset.

A day after the game, I was in the Sixers press dining room having dinner with some of the beat writers when I brought up what a great game that Maryland-Duke national championship game was last night.

“You actually watch women’s basketball,” one of the guys said.

I don’t know why I was surprised by the response. I’ve been a sports writer for a while so I shouldn’t have been.

I mean, hey, in a mostly white, mostly male sports journalism industry, why should women’s basketball get any notice? My guess is that the only reason that women’s tennis gets any notice is that it’s played in really, really short skirts.

But while sexism rears its ugly head most in the world of sports journalism, it’s not the only place it hangs out. In a country where great strides have been made in the area of gender equality,we still have quite a way to go.

Recently, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban made headlines when he sent a Twitter message to 6-foot-8 Baylor All-American Brittney Griner offering a tryout with his team.

It was widely reported in the sports media that it was nothing more than a publicity stunt by Cuban, who is our modern-day Bill Veeck for his penchant for making himself the story.

Of course, you heard all the reasons why Griner couldn’t play with the fellas in the NBA. The athleticism, the speed, the size would be too much for the 6-foot-8 Griner. I can accept that because Griner is a back to the basket player in the low post and not just because she’s a woman.

Besides, 6-foot-8 forwards are a dime a dozen in the NBA and most of them are swing guards or small forwards. If Griner was a good ball-handler and had that kind of game, I might be inclined to say that she may have shot at possibly making a team.

But all that said, I agree with ESPN columnist Jemele Hill who says that she’d like to see Griner make an impact on the WNBA and become one of the best players in the women’s game while also boosting the profile of a league that’s trying to make a name for itself.

Recently, the WNBA and ESPN announced a huge television deal that runs through 2022. The league has revamped its logo and wants to market current college stars like Griner and Notre Dame’s Skylar Diggins, and Delaware’s Elena Delle Donne as the future faces of the league.

Like Hill and her ESPN colleague Kate Fagan, I believe that the whole of idea Griner trying to play in the NBA is another way of marginalizing women as athletes.

Neither Griner nor the current stars of the WNBA like Diana Taurasi, Swin Cash, Tamika Catchings, or Candace Parker need men to validate them as great basketball players. But they are deserving of their respect.

As much as the WNBA and ESPN will do to market their sport, I think the real issue that there is still a huge resistance among men in sports media and society in general to take women’s sports seriously.

The only time you hear any serious discussion of women’s sports on sports talk radio is to hear the loud mouths justify why they don’t watch or to say something disparaging about one of the athletes.

That was the case in 2007 when Don Imus referred to the Rutgers women’s basketball team as “nappy-headed hoes.”

What bothered me about that situation was that C. Vivian Stringer’s Scarlet Knight squad had completed a remarkable run through the NCAA Tournament and reached the national championship game when nobody expected them to be there.

But it’s not just media coverage. Women’s college basketball teams, even in some of the most successful programs, don’t draw the kind of crowds that their male counterparts do. Is it marketing on the part of the university? Or is it because the players don’t have that look that appeals to our male sexual fantasies like an Anna Kournikova?

To me, it’s not market forces or anything couched in some pseudo scientific survey done by a Harvard research team, it’s just that we men still can’t get past our sexism to appreciate the athleticism of female athletes. After all, sports are supposed to be the domain of men.

While I respect ESPN’s efforts for broadcasting the WNBA and women’s college basketball, we will not have true gender equity in sports until we can stand around the nation’s water coolers and rave about Brittney Griner’s exploits on the court in the same way we do LeBron James’s.

Lee, Phillies Bats Power their Way Past the Mets

10 Apr
Ryan Howard hit his first home run of the year Tuesday in the Phillies win over the New York Mets. Photo by Webster Riddick

Ryan Howard hit his first home run of the year Tuesday in the Phillies win over the New York Mets. Photo by Webster Riddick.

RYAN HOWARD GETS FIRST HOME RUN OF YEAR, MICHAEL YOUNG IS ONE HIT SHORT OF  THE CYCLE.

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Earlier this week, Charlie Manuel had talking about the need for his team to start putting every aspect of their game together to start winning on a consistent basis. That means solid pitching and hitting, something they haven’t had much of so far this season.

In the second game of their three-game series against the New York Mets, the Phillies finally got a good game from the guy on the mound and some firepower from their bats in their 8-3 win Tuesday night at Citizen’s Bank Park.

“I saw them hit the ball and they hit it real good,” Manuel said. “We were fortunate enough to get some runs early. It’s a matter of time that we’re going to have some good nights when we do knock them in and getting them on first is important and the most thing is knocking them and scoring runs.”

Starting pitcher Cliff Lee (2-0) has been the most consistent element of the Phillies starting rotation so far this season.  Tuesday night, the Phillies lefthander served up a gem by pitching eight and two-thirds innings, allowing just three runs (two earned) on eight hits. He struck out six and had zero walks.

“I was just throwing strikes and making them swing their way on base,” Lee said. “We were making plays, being aggressive and trying to staying away from hitter friendly counts. “

Lee even helped himself at the plate. He was 1-for-4 with a run batted in. Phillies third baseman Michael Young described him as a baseball player who happens to be a pitching.

“Cliff’s awesome. I’ve always liked to play behind Cliff,” Young said. “He loves to compete. He has a bad at-bat and he’s pissed. It’s fun to play with a guy like that.”

Said Lee: “Anytime you can do anything at the plate or any aspect of the game, If I can do anything to help the team in positive way, I feel good about it.”

When Lee was taken out of the game in the ninth, the fans, probably tired of the poor performances by the bullpen, booed Charlie Manuel while giving Lee a standing ovation.

“It was tough,” Manuel said. “I want Cliff to finish the game, but at the same time, I didn’t want him into no big inning where throws 25 or 30 pitches either. He wanted to stay in of course.”

Now in Manuel’s defense, Lee did throw 106 pitches up to that point and given how the rest of the pitching staff is going right now, the Phillies are not in position to risk any injuries.

Meanwhile, the middle of the Phillies lineup awakened from their slumber in a big way thank to the long ball. With the Phillies already leading 4-0 in the third, Ryan Howard and Young hit back to back homeruns. Later in the inning, rightfielder John Mayberry Jr. also hit a home run.

“For awhile we had trouble getting that big hit,” said Young, who was 3-for-4 and was a double short of the cycle. “We kept saying to ourselves as long as we keep getting out there. That’s the important thing. Eventually, we’ll start moving them in. Hopefully, this is the start of something good.”

The Phillies started the scoring in the bottom of the second by jumping out to a 4-0 on an RBI double by Mayberry that scored Young and Domonic Brown.  The Phils also got an RBI single from Lee and an RBI double from Jimmy Rollins.

Phillies Rally Falls Short, Hamels Roughed Up Again

7 Apr

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report/Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Cole Hamels has allowed 13 earned runs in his first two starts.

Cole Hamels has allowed 13 earned runs in his first two starts in 2013.

PHILADELPHIA—At some point this season, the Phillies will need to get their offense going to the point to where they don’t have to wait until the ninth inning when the game is on the line.

It would really help if their starting and relief pitchers wouldn’t put the team in such a deep hole.

The Phillies trimmed a five-run deficit to one, but could not come up with that one big hit that could have won the game as the Kansas City Royals escaped a furious ninth-inning rally with a 9-8 win in front of 39, 451 fans at Citizen’s Bank Park who were hoping for another miracle comeback.

With men on second and third and two out, Royals relief pitcher Kelvin Herrerra struck out Phillies catcher Erik Kratz to end the game.

“We’re going to be alright. We’ve played six ball games and we’ve yet to put a solid game together,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “We should have scored more runs today and we had chances to score more runs.”

The real issue in this game was starter Cole Hamels who has surrendered 13 earned runs in his first two starts (11.47 ERA).

In five and two-thirds innings of work against Kansas City, he allowed six runs on nine hits including a grand slam homerun by Royals first baseman Billy Butler that transformed a 4-2 Phillies lead into a 6-4 deficit.

“Cole usually doesn’t walk many people and give up that many runs,” said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. “It’s his command. He threw some balls close today, but at the same time, it was his command that go him in trouble.”

Hamels said the most frustrating thing about his first two outings is not pitching well enough to give the team a chance to win.

“It’s giving up runs and not giving the team the opportunity to win,” Hamels said. “When we’re able to score runs early, you want to be able to keep in the team in the ball game and I wasn’t able to do that.

“ It’s first and foremost to win the ball game no matter who you’re playing or who’s pitching. All of his in here want to win and I wasn’t able to do that in two straight games.”

The Phillies got off to another good start in the first inning with RBI singles from Chase Utley, Domonic Brown and Michael Young.  They also got a sacrifice fly from Erik Kratz that drove home Young to give the Phils an early 4-0 lead.

That was the end of scoring phase of the game for the Phillies until the ninth inning when Jimmy Rollins hit a three-run homer and  Laynce Nix got an RBI single to cut the Royals lead to one.

Earlier in the game, the Phils had a runner on third in the third inning and a runner in second in the fifth, but failed to score.

“For a while we were getting guys on base and not getting the big blow,” said Phils third baseman Michael Young, who was 4-for-5 with an RBI. “But that’s alright those things come around. The biggest thing is getting guys out there and eventually we’re going to bring them in.”

The Royals would cut the deficit to 4-2 in their half of the third inning on an RBI double by shortstop Alcides Escobar that scored Chris Getz and a ground out by Butler that scored Alex Gordon.

In the fifth, a double by Getz, an infield single by Gordon and a walk to Escobar set the stage for a grand slam home run by Butler, who drove in seven runs.  He would drive in two more in the sixth.

After Hamels departed with the bases loaded in the sixth, Chad Durbin came and then allowed a two-run to single to Butler.

While the runs weren’t charged to Durbin it was yet another example of the bullpen’s inability to put the fire out and keep the team in the game.

“That’s his spot,” Manuel said. “We were down by two runs at the time and that’s his spot.  Durbin is to known to be a slow starter and so is (Jeremy) Horst. It kind of happens sometimes. We were pitching who we have and that’s who we have right now.”

 

Walkoff Win: Phillies Come From Behind to Beat Kansas City

7 Apr

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report/Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Antonio Bastardo along with Mike Adams kept the Royals from scoring to keep the Phillies in the game.

Antonio Bastardo along with Mike Adams kept the Royals from scoring to keep the Phillies in the game.

PHILADELPHIA—The Phillies got everything that they could have hoped for out of John Lannan.  He allowed three runs on five hits, five strikeouts with no walks in seven innings while giving the Phils beleaguered middle relievers a much needed rest.

Coming into the bottom of the ninth, it looked like Lannan’s efforts would be for naught as the Phillies had just two hits and were down 3-1. When Domonic Brown and John Mayberry Jr. struck out with the bases loaded after Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Michael Young walked to start the inning, things were appearing even more bleak for the Phillies, who down to their last out.

But pinch hitter Kevin Frandsen saved the day for his team with a three-run double to give the Phillies a 4-3 walk-off win over the Kansas City Royals in front 39, 475 fans at Citizen’s Bank Park Saturday night.

“It was a super game. We didn’t have much going for us until that last inning and we came from behind and Frandsen got that big hit for us,” said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. “Lannan did a good job. He took us to a good spot in the game for us to get the strong part of our bullpen in the game.”

Frandsen said he was just glad to support the efforts of Lannan and the rest of his Phillies teammates who had a tough time getting hits against Royals starter Luis Mendoza, who allowed just one run on two hits in six innings of work.

“First and foremost you have to look at what John (Lannan) did tonight. He pitched his ass off for us tonight in his first start for us. That was huge,” Frandsen said. “To get to the ninth with Chase (Utley),  Howie (Ryan  Howard) and Mike (Young) having some unbelievable at-bats to get the bases loaded. It sums up the whole thing.

“Getting a hit was the icing because those guys grinded out at-bats to do something and I was fortunate enough to get it done.”

Though Lannan didn’t get the decision, he said he was glad to have a quality start for the Phillies considering the struggles of the bullpen in the first game of the series against the Royals. He didn’t allow hit in the game until fifth inning.”

“Whenever the bullpen goes out there and throws a lot of innings, you try to go as deep as you can into the game and help them out,” Lannan said.

One of the key plays in the game occurred in the seventh inning.  Phillies catcher Humberto Quintero picked off Miguel Tejada who was on third base following an RBI double and a sacrifice bunt.

“That run made a difference,” Lannan said. “It was a heads up play. He caught them sleeping.”

The Phillies bullpen, which allowed a deluge of runs in the home-opener, had a quality outing. Both Mike Adams and Antonio Bastardo combined to allow just one hit in the game’s final two innings.

“It’s good because when you have a game like that in the ninth inning because you have to keep the game close,” Bastardo said. “That’s what I was trying to do. I was trying keep the game the same as when I walked in and when I walk out. We want to give our hitters a chance to score runs to win the game. That’s my goal.”

The Royals scored two runs in their half of the fifth inning on an RBI ground out by Tejada that scored center fielder Lorenzo Cain and an RBI single by Alex Gordon that plated Jeff Francoeur. The Phillies  cut the lead to 2-1 on an RBI single by Ben Revere that brought home John Mayberry Jr.

 

Opening Day Meltdown at Citizen’s Bank Park, Royals Crush the Phillies 13-4

6 Apr
Kendrick looked sharp in his first four innings against Kansas City but gave up five runs in the  fifth and sixth innings.

Kendrick looked sharp in his first four innings against Kansas City but gave up five runs in the fifth and sixth innings.

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report/Philadelphia Sunday

PHILADELPHIA—Everything was going the Phillies way in the first four innings of their home opener against the Kansas City Royals.

Leftfielder Domonic Brown and catcher Erik Kratz hit homeruns and Ryan Howard had a couple of RBI singles. Starting pitcher Kyle Kendrick had four solid innings of work on the mound and the Phillies had a 4-0 lead.

From the fifth inning forward, it was a meltdown of biblical proportions for the Phils as the Royals scored at least two runs in every inning en route to a 13-4 win over the Phillies in front of an opening day crowd of 45,307 disappointed fans at Citizen’s Bank Park.

“We had a chance to win the game today,” said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. “We just didn’t hold them. Things that we did didn’t come out right. They started hitting and we just couldn’t stop them.”

With the starting pitchers failing get beyond the sixth inning in three of the first four games, the front end of the Phillies bullpen has been equally as shaky if not downright awful.

“I think we have a chance to have a good bullpen. We have talent in our bullpen,” Manuel said. “Today they had a rough day. It just didn’t happen for us.”

Kendrick pitched well for the first four innings and didn’t allow a run while scattering two hits. He became undone in the fifth and sixth innings when he allowed five runs.

The real problem for Kendrick in his last two innings was getting the final out. Even in the innings when he was doing well that was a problem. In his first three innings, he got the first two outs, but allowed a hit before getting the last out.

With an opportunity to get out of two-out bases loaded jam in the fifth and sixth innings, Kendrick just could not find that last out. Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer got a two-run single bases loaded single that cut the Phillies lead to 4-2.

“Hosmer, on a 3-2 count, put a pretty good swing on the ball and got a base hit and scored a couple of runs,” Kendrick said.

In the sixth, Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas singled. Kendrick got the next two outs on a fielder’s choice by Lorenzo Cain that forced Moustakas out at second and a flyout by rightfielder Jeff Francoeur. But then he allowed a double to second baseman Chris Getz and then intentionally walked pinch-hitter Billy Butler to load the bases.

At that point, Manuel pulled Kendrick and brought left handed reliever Jeremy Horst, who gave up a bases clearing triple to Royals outfielder Alex Gordon to give Kansas City a 5-4 lead they would never relinquish.

“Yeah, it’s frustrating because you want to obviously finish the inning,” Kendrick said. “You want to be leading. You want to win the game.”

What ensued after the sixth inning was a bullpen that gave up eight more runs. With Horst pitching in the seventh, three men for the Royals reached. Manuel replaced Horst with Chad Durbin who gave up a sacrifice fly to Cain that brought home Hosmer.

Getz then tripled to left past Brown, who tried to make a spectacular diving catch on a ball he should have kept in front of him. The ball wound up going to the wall and three more Royals scored to make the score 9-4 as the fans headed to the exits.

“It’s a play where you can’t let the ball get behind you,” Manuel said. “Once the ball got behind him, the game was just about over. (Brown) has to really try to keep the ball in front of him. Once you leave your feet and you don’t catch it, it goes to the wall and all the runs scored.”

Meanwhile, the Phillies offense went into a deep freeze after getting nine hits and four runs within the first three innings. After a single by third baseman Michael Young in the third, the Phillies did not get a hit for the rest of the game.

“I guess (Kansas City’s) bullpen was pretty effective,” Howard said. “When we get out, we just got to be able to finish teams off. We can’t let off the gas. I don’t want to say we let off the gas, but those guys came back swinging. Sometimes that happens in baseball. We just got beat today.”