Missed Opportunities Allow Rays To Tie Series

Not hitting with men on base has become a killer for the Phillies. It nearly cost them Game 1 and did cost them Game 2. Now, the series heads back to Philly tied at one game a piece.

In two games so far, the Phillies are 1-for-28 (.036) with runners in scoring position. It's the key stat of the series so far and something that the Phillies are going to need to fix if they're to win this series against Tampa Bay.

It has to work itself out," said Charlie Manuel after the 4-2 loss. "We can talk about it. We can go out and take extra hitting. You can practice, but at the same time it kind of works its way out."

There were two key spots early in the game that hurt the Phillies. In the second, they put runners on second and third with one out, but were unable to push any runs across the plate. An inning later, Carlos Ruiz led off with the first of his two doubles on the night, but James Shields retired Jimmy Rollins, Jayson Werth and Chase Utley to again keep the Phillies off the board.

In each of the two games, the Phillies have stranded 11 runners, while the Rays have stranded a total of just 7 runners through the two games. One of the spots that has been a concern is the DH spot. Chris Coste and Greg Dobbs, the two DHs in the first two games, have combined to strand 9 runners. Rollins has also stranded 9 runners in the series.

"He's swinging hard. And that comes from trying too hard," noted Manuel. "He's capable of coming out and hitting the ball hard four times the next time he plays. That's kind of the way the game goes at times."

Brett Myers gave up four runs over 7 innings of work to take the loss. Rays starter James Shields lasted just 5 2/3 innings, but kept the Phillies off the board and picked up the win. "I thought he made good pitches when he had to. And like I said, he had three strikeouts and they were big strikeouts during the first part of the game," said Manuel. "He was everything they said he was going to be."

One key for later in the series is that the Phillies got their first look at left-hander David Price and were able to score two runs off of him - one earned - over 2 1/3 innings. He gave up a pinch-hit home run to Eric Bruntlett in the eighth and the Phillies had another threat going in the ninth against Price, but again, couldn't capitalize. Ruiz led off the ninth with a double, but Rollins popped out. Third baseman Evan Longoria then misplayed a ball hit by Werth, allowing Ruiz to score, but Price then struck out Utley and got Ryan Howard to ground out to end the game.

Game 3 is scheduled for Saturday night in Philadelphia with Jamie Moyer starting for the Phillies against Matt Garza for Tampa Bay. Rain is predicted for late in the day Saturday, which could force either delays or possibly a rain-out of the game. If the game is rained out, it's likely that the schedule will be pushed back a day, erasing a scheduled off day on Tuesday.

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