The Phillies' mysterious home issues returned last night as they couldn't recover from a disastrous first inning and fell to Boston, 11-6, in an interleague game that was delayed 95 minutes because of rain.
It was their second straight loss to the American League East-leading Red Sox.
Early last night, the Phillies looked nothing like the team that recently dominated on the road. The game began with sloppy play in rainy conditions, and with a letdown for starter Antonio Bastardo, who has struggled to command his secondary pitches in two wins.
Last Sunday in Los Angeles, manager Charlie Manuel was measured in his praise for Bastardo, 23, despite the lefthander's second win in as many tries.
"I like that he's aggressive with his fastball, but he's still got to learn command of his breaking ball and change-up," the manager said then. "Those are the two pitches that he definitely needs to work on."
Those holes helped facilitate Bastardo's falloff last night, as he surrendered five runs, four earned, in one inning, before the rain delay ended his night.
He was not helped by his defense, which in one inning cashed in all the stored-up ugliness not spent on the road.
After retiring leadoff hitter Dustin Pedroia on one pitch, Bastardo walked Jacoby Ellsbury. With Kevin Youkilis batting, Ellsbury stole second; he took third when catcher Carlos Ruiz's throw sailed just wide of Chase Utley's glove and into the outfield.
Bastardo (2-1) hit Youkilis with a pitch, then attempted to pick him off first. Ryan Howard dropped the throw, allowing Ellsbury to score. The first baseman's attention then seemed to drift as he held the ball in foul territory, and an alert Youkilis rushed to third. The extra base was rendered moot, though, when Jason Bay hit an 87-m.p.h. fastball over the center-field fence for a two-run home run.
The inning continued for the Phils when Mike Lowell sent a drive to the warning track in left-center. Because Raul Ibanez took an indirect route to the ball, it fell for a double. Bastardo then walked Rocco Baldelli.
Batting with two on and two outs and rain blowing through the stadium, Julio Lugo drove a pitch to shallow center. The ball bounced once in front of Shane Victorino, then rolled through the outfielder's legs. Two runs scored on the error, a fitting end to the strange inning.
After the extended delay, the Phils emerged with new energy, and seemed to recover their typical crispness. They scored their first run in the third with a pair of two-out doubles by Victorino and Utley. Ibanez made it 5-2 with fourth-inning homer, his 22d, and Pedro Feliz hit a two-run shot after Jayson Werth singled. But reliever Jack Taschner allowed three runs in the fifth, allowing the Red Sox to build another lead.
The Phillies did not allow Boston to embarrass them, and they remained close. Victorino made an excellent running catch with the bases loaded and two outs in the fifth on a Youkilis drive, saving Taschner from a disastrous inning.
Werth singled in Utley in the fifth to make the score 8-5, but Boston continued to pull away against the Phils' bullpen. Ellsbury and Bay drove in runs in the seventh, though Werth made it 10-6 with a solo homer in the bottom of the inning. Ellsbury homered in the ninth to make it 11-6.
In the end, though the Phillies exhibited two qualities they have shown all season - persistence and trouble at home - the latter proved stronger than the former last night.