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Chess Match: Burrell foils strategy

Chess Match: Burrell foils strategy

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MILWAUKEE -- In the end, it was too much Phillies hitting and too little Brewers firepower, too much Phillies frontline pitching and too little from the Brewers.

As the Phillies wrapped up their best-of-five National League Division Series with a 6-2 victory in Game 4 on Sunday at Miller Park, the last of the strategy struggles seemed to favor a Philadelphia squad, which advanced to the NL Championship Series for the first time since 1993.

Not the least of those decisions was Brewers manager Dale Sveum finally getting to Jeff Suppan in a Game 4 dud of a start that began this inauspiciously: Jimmy Rollins whacking a homer run to lead off the game, quickly quieting the big crowd.

By the third inning, the series was in the balance as Shan Victorino blooped a double and remained on second base with two out and Ryan Howard coming to the plate. That's when the managerial wheels began to spin.

Howard's end
The situation: Runner on second, two out, top of the Phillies third.


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The decision: Sveum had Suppan intentionally walk Howard to pitch to Pat Burrell, who came into the game 0-for-8 in the series.

The outcome: Burrell hit a three-run homer deep to left on a 2-2 pitch, essentially breaking open the game and giving the Phillies a 4-0 lead. A moment later, Jayson Werth made it 5-0 with his back-to-back shot.

The analysis: "Well, the goal there coming into this series was not let Howard hit two-pointers against you. It's not that difficult of a decision. Burrell came into the series hitting .170 off righties the last 30 days. Unfortunately, obviously, he was our Achilles tendon today." -- Sveum

Too much Blanton
The situation: Joe Blanton had a three-hit shutout for six innings and led off the top of the seventh, but he had thrown 99 pitches already at that point.


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The decision: Phils manager Charlie Manuel let Blanton hit for himself.

The outcome: Blanton opened the bottom of the seventh by allowing a full-count homer to Prince Fielder and a single by J.J. Hardy. Manuel then replaced Blanton with Ryan Madson, who pitched two innings.

The analysis: "I was fine. I fell behind to Fielder and he made me pay for it. I didn't want to walk him to start off an inning. I threw him a good pitch earlier [in the fourth] and he attacked it and lined out. This time he beat me. I wasn't surprised that Charlie left me in there. I was pitching a good game and we had a comfortable lead." -- Blanton

Why pull Parra?
The situation: Left-handed reliever Manny Parra struck out Chase Utley and Howard to open the eighth.


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The decision: Sveum replaced Parra with the right-handed Guillermo Mota to pitch to the righty-swinging Burrell.

The outcome: That didn't work, either. Burrell homered on an 0-2 pitch, making the score 6-1 and putting the game out of reach.

The analysis: "On two pitches [on Burrell] we had the count in our favor. Unfortunately, it didn't work out. You know, Manny did his job and threw the heck out of the ball. And we wanted to get a right-hander on the mound [Mota] with a slider, and unfortunately he threw a bad 0-2 pitch to him. Once again, we had him in the count we wanted him, and we just made a bad pitch. -- Sveum

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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