AS PAT BURRELL took his swings in the on-deck circle in the sixth inning yesterday afternoon, he was mentally preparing to face a 27-year-old lefthander named Jesse Carlson, who was making his 22nd major league appearance. But when Burrell actually stepped into the batter's box more than a half hour later, he found himself staring down at a Cy Young Award winner.
Toronto took full advantage of a 39-minute delay in the sixth inning - the second rain delay of the game - warming up ace righthander Roy Halladay to face Burrell, who ultimately popped out to first base with men on first and second and the Phillies trailing by two.
Halladay went on to pitch 2 1/3 innings, and the Phillies' latest attempt at a ninth-inning rally came up a few feet short as they fell to the Blue Jays, 6-5.
"The one thing you don't expect is to see the Cy Young [winner] come out of the bullpen," Burrell said. "But hey, it's just another example of how important every game is."
Halladay making his first relief appearance since 2001 seemed fitting on a disjointed day that included 2 hours, 43 minutes worth of delays because of a storm system that rolled through the Philadelphia area.
After the 2003 AL Cy Young winner turned the game over to B.J. Ryan in the ninth, the Phillies rallied with two outs, getting a monster home run from Burrell that landed in the second deck in leftfield, cutting the deficit to one. Chris Coste's double then put the tying run in scoring position.
But Eric Bruntlett had an epic battle against Ryan in the game's final at-bat. He fouled off four straight pitches at one point, two of which hooked just outside the third-base line, but ultimately struck out.
The actual game time - 2:54 - was only 11 minutes longer than the time of the rain delays.
Kyle Kendrick retired the first three batters he faced in the first inning and Ryan Howard hit a two-run home run to centerfield in the bottom half of the frame, but the first delay was called as the storm front moved in prior to the start of the second.
A little more than 2 hours later, the teams returned to the field, with both Kendrick and Toronto starter Shaun Marcum unavailable because of the long layoff.
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said once the delay eclipsed an hour, Kendrick had no shot to return.
"He warmed up a couple of times, but once it got over an hour, he wasn't going out," Manuel said.
That left the final eight innings in the hands of a bullpen that entered the game leading the majors with a 2.64 ERA. Righthander Chad Durbin, a former starter with the Royals and Tigers, was sharp early, retiring 11 of the first 12 batters he faced. But he ran into trouble with two outs in the fifth, allowing a double to Rod Barajas and walking Marco Scutaro to bring pinch-hitter Lyle Overbay to the plate.
As Toronto's usual first baseman, Overbay doesn't get a lot of opportunities to pinch-hit. But he took advantage of this one, crushing a 2-1 pitch into the seats in rightfield for a three-run home run that tied the game at 3-3.
Durbin, a candidate for the starting rotation in spring training, threw 66 pitches in his four innings. Before yesterday, the most pitches he had thrown in an outing this season was 46 (in 3 2/3 innings of a loss to the Mets on April 9).
Veteran righthander Rudy Seanez (2-3) then gave up three runs in the sixth, all with two outs. Shannon Stewart hit a two-run double to right-center and Barajas hit an RBI single into left to give the Blue Jays a 6-3 lead.
That was all they would need as the Phillies failed to capitalize with runners in scoring position several times.
They left the bases loaded in the fourth and fifth innings, and had runners on first and second in the sixth.
In the third, Jimmy Rollins led off with a double to right, then moved to third on Jayson Werth's groundout. But Chase Utley and Ryan Howard both grounded out to end the threat.
The Phillies (24-21) finished 3-for-13 with runners in scoring position.
"It was a game of missed opportunities," Manuel said. *