BEFORE YESTERDAY, the Phillies had won six of their last seven games - a pretty nice streak for a team that started the season losing 10 of its first 13 games.
But the Phils dropped their first game in four outings to the Milwaukee Brewers yesterday in a game that included anything but a pretty nice streak. That's because a fan decided to drop his underwear just before the seventh inning, hopping the leftfield wall and running across the field much to the delight - or dismay - of the 31,553 fans at Citizens Bank Park.
"I just got real blushed and wasn't trying to look," manager Charlie Manuel said after the 3-2 loss to the Brewers. "It happened so quick, that by the time I saw him he was already on the ground."
That had been the biggest excitement of the game at that point, but any average Phillies fan this season has come to expect the fun to start in the later innings.
Trailing by a run in the ninth inning with one out, Pat Burrell sent a shot to leftfield that was ruled a ground-rule double. Manuel, convinced that the ball had cleared the fence, debated the call with home-plate umpire Tom Hallion for a few moments before the call stood. Replays appeared to show the ball had landed on top of the green padded wall just above the W.B. Mason sign, but never cleared the gated fence behind it.
"I seen it when he hit it and it looked like he got a pretty good piece of it," Manuel said. "I was hoping we would get lucky and they'd call it, but we didn't. Luck doesn't count in anything but horseshoes and accidents."
Burrell, who went 2-for-4 with a solo home run in the second inning off Ben Sheets, acknowledged he didn't think he hit the ball hard enough for his second homer of the game.
"No, it wasn't there," said Burrell, who is batting .333 with four homers and 10 RBI in his last seven games. "Maybe if it had been a couple years ago, before they moved the wall back a few feet, it would have been a home run."
While Burrell missed his second homer, Brewers rightfielder Gabe Gross didn't, smoking two off starter Freddy Garcia.
Gross' first home run came on the first pitch of the third inning and tied the game at 1-1. He matched that in the fifth by sending a 0-1 breaking ball over the leftfield wall.
Garcia (1-3) pitched 5 2/3 innings and finished with five strikeouts, allowing seven hits and two earned runs.
He was outshined by Sheets (4-2), who went 7 2/3 innings, punching out eight and allowing five hits and two runs.
"He had good stuff all day," Burrell said. "He's a two-pitch guy with a great fastball and curveball that can be dangerous."
After the naked nuisance invaded the field, it almost seemed as if the Phillies rallied behind him. Although Chase Utley was the only Phillie to record a hit in the seventh, the Phillies reloaded in the eighth with two outs in what looked to be another late-inning comeback.
Aaron Rowand, who was hitting in the leadoff spot for the fourth consecutive game, doubled to rightfield just short of a home run. Shane Victorino followed with a single, bringing the Phillies to within a run.
But there would be no comeback for them on this day.
While they boosted their record and confidence throughout this series, taking three of four from a Brewers team that came to Philadelphia as one of the hotter teams in the majors, the Phillies again found themselves back under .500, something most players think is overstated.
"Honestly, we're just trying to win ballgames, you know. It's not like you just shut it down or turn it on whenever you go above or below .500." Rowand said.
The Phillies will look to start a new winning streak tonight when they open interleague play against the suddenly streaking Toronto Blue Jays, who have won five of their last six games.
Let's just hope whoever decides to streak does it with clothes on.
Rod Barajas started at catcher for the first time in five games. Carlos Ruiz was given the day off. Barajas, who is hitting .174, went 0-for-1 with a walk. Ruiz entered the game in the middle of the sixth when Geoff Geary relieved Freddy Garcia and recorded a single in the sixth . . . Shane Victorino stole his 13th consecutive base in the eighth inning. He has 15 for the season. *