Sharp early, Worley falters in sixth as Phils fall

Sharp early, Worley falters in sixth as Phils fall

Sharp early, Worley falters in sixth as Phils fall
PHILADELPHIA -- Just win series.

That has been the Phillies' mantra for weeks. If they just win series, they crawl back into contention for one of the two National League Wild Card spots and put the first four months of the season behind him. But Friday night's 7-2 loss to the Giants at Citizens Bank Park put the Phillies in a difficult, albeit familiar position. They need to win Saturday and Sunday to take the series against the Giants, or they will stand at least 12 games under .500 with just six games to play before the July 31 Trade Deadline.

The Phils have won back-to-back games or more just twice since June 20. They also are 17-28 at home, which is the worst home record in the NL.

"The thing for us to do right now is just forget about this game and try to come back out," first baseman Ryan Howard said. "Like I've said, the goal is try to win a series."

They sealed their fate Friday when Vance Worley allowed a grand slam to Brandon Crawford in the sixth inning to give the Giants a 6-1 lead.

Worley had quite a Jekyll and Hyde night. He retired 13 of the first 14 batters he faced, striking out seven, before allowing eight of the final 13 batters to reach base.

"Early on, it was a tough go," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "Their guy was throwing great. We weren't taking too many swings, either."

Worley loaded the bases in the sixth after walking Buster Posey and Nate Schierholtz with one out. In a different season with a better bullpen, perhaps manager Charlie Manuel pulls Worley for somebody like Chad Durbin, Chan Ho Park, J.C. Romero or Jose Contreras.

But Manuel stuck with Worley.

Why wouldn't he?

"When you look at it, it's definitely tough for me to put one of those kids on a bases-loaded, one-out situation in the game right now," Manuel said. "That's kind of tough. But at the same time, I still felt like Worley had enough. I still felt like he was my best option."

Worley's body language on the mound showed his frustrations after the slam.

"I missed my spots," he said. "I got hurt on the one pitch, really. I felt strong. Everything was coming out the way I wanted it. I just missed."

The night actually seemed to set up nicely for the Phils, considering they had to face Giants right-hander Tim Lincecum, who has struggled this season. He entered with a 5.93 ERA, the second worst among qualifying pitchers. He had allowed 69 earned runs after giving up just 66 last season. Just five of 19 starts were quality starts.

Make that six of 20 after Friday.

Lincecum allowed five hits, two runs, two walks and struck out six in seven innings to earn a win.

"I saw the last two games he pitched," Manuel said. "He had a better fastball tonight. He was mostly 89-93 [mph]. He touched 94. The last time out I didn't see that. I thought he changed speeds good tonight. I thought he was locating. Any time you can locate, especially changeups and stuff like that, we have trouble with you."

He allowed a run in the fourth when Shane Victorino and Chase Utley hit back-to-back singles to put runners on the corners with no outs. Victorino scored when Lincecum, trying to deliver a pitch to the plate, stumbled and fell before releasing the ball to earn a balk.

Lincecum loaded the bases when he walked Hunter Pence and Juan Pierre, but Placido Polanco grounded out to end the inning.

Howard homered in the sixth to make it 6-2, but that would be it.

Just win series.

If the Phillies win two of every three games the rest of the season, they will finish 86-76. It would be an impressive turnaround, but likely would leave them short of the postseason. Maybe the mantra should be: Just win series, with a few sweeps, too.

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.