Injuries Give Floyd Extended Life

The Phillies might be growing weary of inconsistent starts by Gavin Floyd, but a revolving door of starters heading to the disabled list will keep Floyd in the rotation for at least a few more starts.

Jon Lieber had to leave Monday night's start against the Nationals after two innings when he strained his groin while making a spinning throw to first base on a grounder he bobbled. That added to a frustrating season for Lieber (3-5, 5.79), who was placed on the 15-day disabled list after the game.

The Phillies aren't certain who will start in Lieber's place Saturday. They purchased the contract of right-hander Brian Sanches from Triple-A to take his place on the roster, but Sanches has been a reliever for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre all season.

Left-hander Cole Hamels is eligible to come off the DL that day, but even though his strained shoulder seems to have been a false alarm, general manager Pat Gillick said that Hamels still will make a rehab start Thursday at Class A Lakewood and return to the Phillies' rotation sometime next week.

"He says that he feels fine and he looked like he was throwing fine," Gillick said after Hamels pitched a couple of innings in a simulated game Monday afternoon.

The only question that remains is who he will replace in the rotation. One thing is certain: Floyd is on notice.

Floyd's 6.62 ERA is among the highest in the NL for starting pitchers, and the only reason he is 4-2 is that his offense has supplied him with a generous 5.9 runs per start. In Floyd's last three starts - all no-decisions - the Phillies lost all three despite scoring 21 runs in those games. Floyd allowed 16 earned runs over 14 2/3 innings in those starts.

Hamels' Thursday rehab start puts him on the same pitching schedule as Floyd. When Gillick was asked if Hamels might replace Floyd in the rotation, he said, "Possibly. (Hamels) will be ready to pitch. It's up to the pitching coach and the manager to decide."

That, however, came before Lieber's injury. So Floyd might have seen an injury buy him yet a little more time.

RECAP: For the second consecutive game, a home run by first baseman Ryan Howard broke the game open. Monday night, his three-run bomb in the sixth inning snapped a tie and sent the Phillies storming to an 11-2 win over the Nationals, their most lopsided victory of the season.

Clay Condrey got the win, pitching four innings of relief after starting pitcher Jon Lieber left the game in the second inning with a strained groin. Condrey allowed one unearned run in his longest relief stint of the year.

The Phillies broke the game open with five runs in the seventh inning, a rally in which Pat Burrell and David Bell each connected on two-run singles. Jimmy Rollins (single, double, walk) scored three runs as the Phils won back-to-back games for the first time since their 13-1 run at the start of the month.

NEWS and NOTES

  • Cole Hamels (15-day DL, shoulder) pitched two innings of a simulated game Monday and had no problems with his shoulder. He'll make a minor league rehab start Thursday for Class A Lakewood and should return to the Phillies' rotation during their road trip on the West Coast next week.
  • Ryan Howard continues to mash homers to the opposite field. His homers Sunday and Monday landed within 15 feet of one another in the left-field seats. "He hits more opposite-field homers than anyone I've ever been around," manager Charlie Manuel said. "That amazes me." His three-run shot on Monday was Howard's 13th in May. If he can hit two more in the final two games of the month, it would tie him with Cy Williams (May 1923) and Jim Thome (June 2004) for the most homeruns in any month by a Phillie.
  • Mike Lieberthal (bruised knee) was activated before the game. To make room for Lieberthal on the roster, C Carlos Ruiz was returned to Triple-A. Ruiz failed to carry his hot opening month at the plate with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre into his first major league action. After hitting .385 for the Red Barons, he went 5-for-35 (.143) with one RBI in 10 starts with the Phillies. "He's a better hitter than he showed," manager Charlie Manuel said. "And he definitely showed that he can catch and throw. He did a good job behind the plate for us."
  • Randy Wolf (60-day DL, elbow surgery) made his first start since undergoing Tommy John surgery 10 months ago. He pitched two innings in an extended spring game, his fastball clocking in the 85-87 mph range. He struck out five of the seven hitters that he faced, including former major leaguer Erubiel Durazo, who is in the Yankees' extended camp.
  • THE NUMBERS GAME - 1: Number of combined RBI for Carlos Ruiz and Sal Fasano since Mike Lieberthal went on the disabled list three weeks ago. They combined to hit .209 in 19 games.

    HE SAID WHAT? "He has an attitude of being a guy you can count on when you need a win. He has shown that he wants to be a guy you can count on. He's an ace. You're going to have to beat him." - Tom Gordon, on Brett Myers.

    MEDICAL UPDATE:

  • Randy Wolf, who is coming off "Tommy John" surgery, began the season on the disabled list. He hopes to begin a minor league rehab assignment in June.
  • Julio Santana went on the 15-day disabled list May 13 with elbow tendinitis.
  • Cole Hamels felt a pop in his shoulder while throwing before the game May 23 and was placed on the disabled list the next day. The diagnosis was that it was just a strain, however.
  • Rheal Cormier got a cortisone shot in his sore left shoulder but was pitching again on May 24.
  • Jon Lieber pulled a groin muscle May 29 and was placed on the disabled list.

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