By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report
PHILADELPHIA—After a shaky first inning in which he gave up four runs, Phillies starting pitcher Jonathan Pettibone did everything he could to minimize the damage. He didn’t allow the Boston Red Sox to score another run for the next four innings.
Unfortunately, Pettibone didn’t get much help from his offense that could only muster just three hits after the first inning when they got three hits including a two-run homer by Delmon Young.
The Phillies hitting woes were complicated by the bullpen’s failure to keep the Red Sox off the scoreboard after Pettibone, who allowed four runs on six hits, left the game after the fifth inning.
The result was yet another setback in the Phillies efforts to get back to the .500 mark as the Red Sox came away with a 9-2 win over the Phils in the series finale at Citizen’s Bank Park in front of 40,083 fans, many of whom left the ball yard long before the final out.
“If we’re going to run off a winning streak or something like that, we’ve got to play much better, we’ve got to play more consistent,” said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. “I’m not looking at .500 as a big championship move or nothing like that. I’m looking at .500 as a place where we can get going a little bit.”
The Red Sox jumped on Pettibone (3-1) for four runs in that fateful first inning. Boston got a two-run RBI double from Jarrod Saltalamacchia that scored David Ortiz, who walked and Mike Carp, who reached on an RBI single that score Daniel Nava.
“I was able to get ahead early on, but then I wasn’t really finishing-a couple of 0-2 and 1-2 hits,” Pettibone said. “I didn’t finish the batters and they were able to get some hits through. Of course, that double was an 0-0 changeup that was up in the zone …I left it up in the end zone and he was able to put a good swing on it. Two runs came in and that was that.”
The Red Sox also scored on a RBI fielder’s choice from Dustin Predroia, scoring Jacoby Ellsbury, who set a team record by stealing five bases.
The Phillies (26-28) bounced back in their half of the first inning with a two-run homer from Young off Red Sox starting pitcher Franklin Morales (1-0) to cut the lead to 4-2.
The Phils offense, which was without first baseman Ryan Howard who had the night off, would do nothing the rest of the game against a pitcher in Morales who’s not a world beater by any stretch of the imagination.
“We didn’t muster enough offense. It’s the same thing every day,” Manuel said. “If you noticed, we swung at some bad balls, especially when we were ahead in the count. We didn’t use (Morales) wildness to our advantage tonight.”
It was not like the Phillies didn’t have their chances offensively. In the fourth inning, the Phils had the bases loaded with one out. But catcher Erik Kratz hit into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play to snuff out the threat.
“The game’s sitting there for us and we couldn’t do nothing to take it,” Manuel said. “We couldn’t get enough base runners and we couldn’t get enough big hits.”
After the fourth inning, the Phillies would have just four base runners the rest of the way.
The Phillies erratic bullpen once again failed to keep an opponent off the scoreboard as they allowed five runs on eight hits in the last four innings of the game.
Phillies reliever Jeremy Horst allowed a pair of solo home runs to Red Sox pinch hitter Jonny Gomes in the sixth and Ortiz in the seventh. Reliever Chad Durbin, who has an earned run average of 9.00, allowed Boston to score three more runs in the ninth.
Manuel said Horst and Durbin were the only pitchers available, which is not a good thing considering how those two pitchers have struggled this season.
“Our bullpen has been out of whack since we were in Washington and we didn’t have some guys tonight,” Manuel said. “When we’re behind the guys that are in the middle of our bullpen are going to pitch.”
Suffice it to say, the Phillies middle relief corps is in a serious state of disarray.