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No relief for Phillies

PHOENIX - It came down to Diamondbacks closer Jose Valverde not doing what every other reliever did: That is, allow a run to score.

Diamondbacks' Conor Jackson gets ready to tag out Shane Victorino on pickoff.
Diamondbacks' Conor Jackson gets ready to tag out Shane Victorino on pickoff.Read more

PHOENIX - It came down to Diamondbacks closer Jose Valverde not doing what every other reliever did: That is, allow a run to score.

Valverde achieved it, logging his 12th save with a shutout ninth inning in the D-backs' 4-3 win over the Phillies last night.

Once again stung by a bullpen strapped by injuries to closer Tom Gordon and middle man Ryan Madson, the Phils fell to 3-5 on their 10-game road trip in the opener of a three-game series.

"We need somebody to step up and [win] a job there,'' manager Charlie Manuel said after Francisco Rosario took the loss by allowing the winning run in the eighth inning.

"Rosario's got a big arm and he's got a good slider, but those are tough spots in the game.''

Those are spots that earned Madson so much credibility as a reliever in 2004 and 2005.

The Phillies played without first baseman Ryan Howard, who missed the first of at least three starts with lingering left leg injuries. Howard pinch-hit for Carlos Ruiz to start the ninth and popped out foul behind third base.

The match game lasted all night, beginning with starters Freddy Garcia and Doug Davis. Each went six innings and gave up two runs.

Davis has been that good all year. On the other hand, the Phillies might consider kicking Garcia in the shin the day before every start - or maybe having him pitch against only whichever team is the fourth-worst in the league in hitting.

Garcia pitched on a heavily padded right shin, which he badly bruised by running into a grounds-keeper's cart while shagging flies during batting practice Sunday in San Francisco.

He managed his best outing since the Phillies traded for him in December: six innings, two runs on five hits, no walks and two strikeouts. Of course, he did it against the light-hitting D-backs, whose pitching staff has kept them near the .500 mark.

"Freddy did good,'' Manuel said. "It was amazing.''

Garcia agreed.

"Yesterday when that happened I said, 'I won't pitch tomorrow,' " he said. "But I didn't have any problem. I tried to keep my fastball down. I'm glad I lasted a little longer today."

Garcia had not pitched more than five innings in his four previous starts.

He was on the hook until he was pinch-hit for in the seventh, when the Phils scratched out two runs against Davis.

The lefty, whose 2.25 earned run average was seventh in the league entering the game, took a 2-0 lead into the inning. Abraham Nunez and Carlos Ruiz greeted him with doubles to make it 2-1. Davis walked pinch-hitter Jayson Werth, and left for Tony Pena.

A pair of groundballs to second base from speedy Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino moved Ruiz to third, then scored him; both were too fast to be doubled up.

Victorino wasn't quick enough to avoid Pena's pickoff move. He got nailed and ended the inning.

It is the second consecutive game in which Victorino was caught off first base, but Manuel doesn't mind; Victorino is a full-time starter for the first time and has 13 steals, second in the league.

"If you're going to run a lot and steal a lot of bases, you're going to get picked off,'' Manuel said. "That's a really fine line. I don't want him to not be aggressive.''

Antonio Alfonseca gave the lead right back in the bottom of the inning, surrendering a pair of one-out singles and a sacrifice fly to make it 3-2 before stranding two runners.

Arizona's Brandon Lyon followed Alfonseca's lead: consecutive two-out doubles by Aaron Rowand and Wes Helms retied it.

Then it was Rosario's turn in the eighth. Typically, for him, it began with a walk, with one out, to Eric Byrnes. He went to third on Stephen Drew's single and scored on Carlos Quentin's, setting up Valverde for the save and handing Rosario his second loss.

Now with 63 career saves, the expressive Valverde trails franchise leader Matt Mantei by just 11. *