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Phils lose another close one to Diamondbacks

PHOENIX - Eric Byrnes supplied most of the Arizona Diamondbacks' scant offense and Adam Eaton logged his second decent start as a Phillie.

Chase Utley makes an off-balance throw to first base in the fourth inning.
Chase Utley makes an off-balance throw to first base in the fourth inning.Read more

PHOENIX - Eric Byrnes supplied most of the Arizona Diamondbacks' scant offense and Adam Eaton logged his second decent start as a Phillie.

But the circumstances surrounding the seventh inning, when D-backs pinch-hitter Tony Clark broke a tie with a solo homer, told the story of the Phillies' current state: No confidence in the bulk of the bullpen.

The Diamondbacks took a second straight one-run decision last night, 3-2. That put the Phillies at 3-6 on their 10-game road trip, which ends here today.

Eaton gave up three runs in his seven innings but, with slugger Ryan Howard sidelined for a second straight game and with the lineup shaken up - Aaron Rowand led off, Jimmy Rollins hit third - Eaton got nowhere near enough help.

Chase Utley's leadoff homer in the seventh off rookie righthander Micah Owings (2-1) tied the game at 2. It was Utley's sixth of the season.

But Abraham Nunez' two-out double later in the inning began a sequence that laid bare the Phillies' current quandary.

Nunez moved to third on a 1-0 wild pitch to Carlos Ruiz, after which Owings intentionally walked Ruiz. Eaton was on deck.

Manuel let Eaton hit.

"That's the best outing he's had in the long time," Manuel said. "He could get the bottom of the lineup out. The fact that he had 87 pitches, he was pitching good - plus he can hit a little bit."

It recalled Monday.

Trailing by a run in the top of the seventh, Manuel pulled starter Freddy Garcia after 70 pitches for pinch-hitter Jayson Werth with a runner on second and no outs. Werth walked, and the Phillies eventually tied the game on a pair of groundouts that inning.

Phillies relievers Antonio Alfonseca and Francisco Rosario went on to allow two runs, which cost the Phillies in the 4-3 loss.

Manuel, wary of his own bullpen, could have let Garcia hit for himself and left him in the game.

Certainly, last night Manuel didn't want to call on Triple A callups Clay Condrey, Yoel Hernandez or Fabio Castro.

Manuel was asked if he had a more solid bullpen, would he have let Eaton hit, and he replied, "That gives me a lot more options."

Last night, there were two outs. Slugger Ryan Howard, the only lefty hitter on the bench, was hobbled but was available to pinch-hit. "He was available, I thought about it," Manuel said. "I thought if I did that, they would just walk him."

Manuel's thinking in allowing Eaton to hit for himself: Eaton was a career .192 hitter entering that at-bat, which is very good for a pitcher, and he already had a hit last night off Owings. And Howard's power might have been needed later.

Eaton grounded out to third base.

Owings said he was "a little" surprised that Eaton had hit for himself.

But Eaton said he has been left in games to hit in similar situations in his time with the Padres.

"It's not the first time," he said. "There is no reason I didn't get a hit. I smothered a fastball, and I was looking for a fastball."

Eaton then gave up the homer to Clark - a slumping, lefty-hitting first baseman, hitting .222, whose homer was his fifth.

"Obviously I made a big mistake to a down-and-in hitter," Eaton said of the backdoor slider that Clark crushed. "Where I left that pitch was not where you want to leave it; basically inner third, and down. Where Mr. Clark likes it."

Coincidentally, Howard, also a first baseman, was hitting .198 with five homers. He was rested for the second straight night because of left thigh and knee injuries - the key word being rested.

He had popped out in a pinch-hit at-bat Monday.

The Diamondbacks won despite some ill-advised baserunning.

Owings, a fine hitter himself, laced a fifth-inning smash that Nunez could not handle at third, the ball caroming into foul territory. With two out in a tie game, Owings tried to take second base, but Nunez nailed him to end the inning.

In the eighth, the Phillies tried to give them a run. Geoff Geary walked Alberto Callaspo to start the inning, then threw a pickoff throw wild to allow him second base. Utley then charged Orlando Hudson's grounder and threw to third, where he was unlikely to get Callaspo, anyway. The throw was wild and got by Nunez. Nunez quickly recovered, though, and gathered in the rebound off the screen in front of the Diamondbacks' dugout. Callaspo tried to score. Nunez threw him out at home.

Fortunately for Arizona, Byrnes had done enough damage early. He homered in the second inning to make it 1-0, his fourth of the season and tied for the second-longest in Chase Field history. Former Phillies third baseman Scott Rolen also hit one 479 feet, in 1999.

After Greg Dobbs, Ryan Howard's replacement, tied it at 1 in the fifth with his first homer of the season, Byrnes pulled a two-out single to left to retake the lead, 2-1.

That set up the seventh, and Eaton, and Clark, and no Howard.

And no win.

Said Manuel: "The bottom line is, we've got to score more than two and three runs." *