Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Phils lose to Cardinals, time is running out

July 23, 2012

Box Score (from ESPN.com)

By Nick Tricome

The Phillies were in a pretty good situation coming back from the All-Star break.

They were at the .500 mark and looked to make up some serious ground on the National League East leading Atlanta Braves, after finishing off the first half of the season with a good homestand.

But man, have the Phillies not capitalized on a good opportunity. They dropped two of three to the Mets and were handed their third straight loss via a 4-1 defeat against the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday night.

The Phillies now fall back to two games under .500 at 49-51. They still have a hold on second place in the division, thanks to Washington losing four straight since returning from the break, but sit 7.0 games back of Atlanta for first place.

The Cardinals sent Shelby Miller to the mound to start the series opener at Busch Stadium and he ended up pitching six innings of shutout ball, allowing only three hits and a walk.

The Phillies only managed two hits through the first five innings, both of them were singles by Chase Utley in the first and the fourth.

St. Louis scored an early run, taking a 1-0 lead in the first via a ground out by Allen Craig with runners at the corners.

Craig hit a double in the fourth, then Yadier Molina hit a ball down the third base line that went past the glove of Michael Young. Craig scored and Molina reached second for an RBI double to make it 2-0 Cardinals.

Matt Adams followed up with a single to move Molina up to third and David Freese brought him home with a single of his own to make it 3-0 St. Louis in the fourth.

It was a rough night for Jonathan Pettibone, as his outing would end after giving up three earned runs off seven hits and three walks in five innings pitched.

Raul Valdes, who was recalled from Triple-A Lehigh Valley Tuesday morning, was brought in in relief of Pettibone.

Valdes pitched one and a third and was charged an earned run, after Justin De Fratus allowed another RBI single by Craig in the seventh inning. Carlos Beltran scored on the play, after hitting a triple in the at-bat before. Valdes was pulled after the triple.

The Phillies did get on the board in the top of the seventh inning, thanks to an RBI double hit all the way to the wall in left field by John Mayberry Jr. The hit scored Darin Ruf from first to make it a 3-1 game.

However, that was about as good as it was going to get for the Phillies, offensively, after the Cardinals made it a 4-1 game in the bottom half of the seventh.

St. Louis' bullpen kept the Phillies at bay for the rest of the game, to take the first of a three game series.

The Phillies will have to recover and bounce back on Wednesday night. They have only six games left before the trade deadline, with these games deciding if they are buyers or sellers.

With two more games against the Cardinals, who have the best record in baseball, and three against the American League Central leading Detroit Tigers up next, the Phillies have no other choice but to give everything they have over these next six games.

Hopefully, they'll be able to do that and their best will be enough. If not, the infamous "baseball is a business" line might rear its ugly head and some tough trade decisions could be made.

(Image from CSNPhilly.com and  the Associated Press)

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