Roy Oswalt buried Juan Uribe in a 0-2 hole and threw a change-up when searching for a strikeout to begin the sixth inning of a 6-2 loss to Los Angeles at Citizens Bank Park. Uribe had fanned in 25 percent of his 145 at-bats before Tuesday, and Oswalt had recorded 7.4 strikeouts for every nine innings pitched in his 11 seasons.
But Oswalt's pitches have not eluded as many bats as usual in the six starts since his return from the disabled list. Uribe swung at the change-up, left in the zone, and laced a double to the left-field corner. Oswalt drifted off the mound and in one violent motion, snapped his head and body 180 degrees in anger. A simple curse word or scream was not enough to internalize this failure.
It was but one instance regarding how the Phillies and Oswalt were outdone by an inferior team and a rookie pitcher making his first start. Rubby De La Rosa was not much better than Oswalt, who allowed four runs in six innings, but a feeble Phillies offense neutralized De La Rosa's inability to throw strikes.
The home team had five hits, one for extra bases. In the first six games of June, the Phillies have a grand total of seven extra-base hits, or one for every 29.3 at-bats. The lone such hit Tuesday was a run-scoring triple by Chase Utley in the seventh inning.
Such little pop permitted wildness from De La Rosa, who threw more balls (50) than strikes (46), and yet the Phillies scored just once off the 22-year-old righthander. He walked five in the first two innings, none in the next three innings, and the Phillies stranded seven men on base with him on the mound.
The offensive malfunctions inhabited many forms. In the first inning, De La Rosa walked two, but the Phillies could not hit a ball out of the infield. An inning later, the bases were loaded with no outs. One run scored, only because De La Rosa walked Placido Polanco with two outs to force it home. Before that, Oswalt struck out and Shane Victorino grounded out to the pitcher. After the run scored, Utley flew out to center to ensure no crooked number.
The last out of the third inning was recorded at home plate, when Raul Ibanez was thrown out by Andre Ethier while attempting to score from second on a single to right by Wilson Valdez.
An inept offense was exacerbated by a momentary Oswalt brain cramp. When the Dodgers put runners on first and second to begin the third inning, Ryan Howard played off the bag. (The inning started with a five-pitch walk to the opposing pitcher, De La Rosa, in his first big-league plate appearance.)
Oswalt, thinking the first baseman was in position for a pickoff, spun and threw to no one. The ball careened down the right-field line in foul territory and allowed one run to score and another runner to reach third. Two pitches later, a Casey Blake single increased Los Angeles' lead to 3-1. The Dodgers added another run that inning.
Oswalt's inability to miss bats caught up to him. In six innings, he allowed eight hits and four runs. He struck out one and Dodgers swung and missed at four of his 94 pitches. He has struck out three or fewer batters in sixth straight starts, the longest such streak of his career.
Before the game, Charlie Manuel said there were no longer limitations on his righthander, who went three weeks without starting a game earlier this season.
On this night, Oswalt was hardly the only problem. A group of bats that can only manage singles let a wide-eyed rookie escape and a lackluster June continued.