WITH HIS FLY BALL rattling in the rightfield corner and his team looking for that all-important insurance run, Ross Gload dropped the hammer from fourth gear to fifth, perhaps thinking that his leadoff double could become a leadoff triple. But his body didn't respond, and a split-second later the fill-in first baseman was walking the final couple of steps to second after one of the more obvious groin pulls you will see.
Watching the play with fellow reliever Danys Baez in the bullpen, Brad Lidge reacted as you might expect.
"Honestly, I remember, I was looking at Danys down there and we were just like, 'Not again,' " the Phillies' closer said. "How can this be happening again? It seems like whenever somebody gets hot, they get hurt."
There was plenty of good news last night, though. Lidge and Ryan Madson combined to retire the last six batters of a 2-0 win over the Dodgers as the Phillies (63-50) maintained a 2 1/2-game deficit behind the Braves in the NL East. Roy Oswalt tossed seven scoreless innings in his Citizens Bank Park debut. And Raul Ibanez went 2-for-4 with an RBI double to extend his hitting streak to 18 games.
But once again, the injury-ravaged Phillies could not escape a victory without a significant loss.
The official word on Gload, whose ill-fated sixth-inning hit set up a key insurance run by pinch-runner Mike Sweeney on a Ibanez' double, was a groin strain that will be re-evaluated today. It looked bad, and it still might be. But the Phillies, who were already carrying one fewer bench player than normal, say they won't know about a possible trip to the disabled list until today.
"They said it's not quite as bad as they thought it might be [at first]," manager Charlie Manuel said.
Two or 3 or even 4 weeks without a reserve infielder might sound like more of a flesh wound than a crippling blow, considering the amount of injured star power the Phils have succeeded without this season. But Gload was one of the big reasons why the Phillies were able to succeed without that star power, particularly slugger Ryan Howard, who hit the disabled list with a sprained ankle on Aug. 2.
In seven games since Howard's injury, Gload was 7-for-21 with seven RBI and six runs. Overall, he is hitting .293 with an .853 OPS, five doubles, six home runs, 14 runs and 21 RBI.
The platoon-like situation the Phillies envisioned after acquiring veteran castoff Sweeney from the Mariners last week instead could become Sweeney's chance to get himself to the postseason for the first time in his 15-plus year career (only two active players have played more games without appearing in the playoffs). Howard is eligible to return from the disabled list in just 5 days, but there are indications that his recovery could take as long as another 2 weeks. Greg Dobbs is a lefty who can play first, but he is hitting just .196 and entered last night with one hit in his last 19 at-bats.
Also, third baseman Placido Polanco said he is probably going to need offseason surgery to alleviate the tendinitis in his elbow that has plagued him since April, although he said he will be able to play through the pain the rest of the season.
Said Polanco, who left the Phillies' loss to the Dodgers early Tuesday night but played yesterday, leading off the fourth with a single and eventually scoring a run to give Oswalt a 1-0 lead: "I only feel it when I bump it or sometimes when I stretch it or extend it."
"It's just one of these weird years," said Lidge, who converted his 15th save in 19 opportunities. "It seems like everybody on our team has been hurt this year. But for us to keep being resilient and keep fighting through it is going to make it very rewarding if we can achieve our goal this year."
The good news? They Phillies, who have already sent 15 players to the disabled list, might not need a ton of offense from first base if Oswalt continues to pitch the way he did last night. For seven innings, the veteran righty shut down the Dodgers' potent lineup, holding them to five hits and one walk while striking out five. He allowed leadoff doubles in two innings, but both times pitched his way out of trouble. In the second, with no outs and men on first and second, he got Jay Gibbons to ground into a doubleplay and then got Jamey Carroll to ground out and end the threat. In the fifth, he coaxed an inning-ending groundout from Ryan Theriot with runners at first and third.
Since struggling in his Phillies debut, Oswalt (7-13, 3.34) has allowed just two runs in 13 1/3 innings in his last two starts.
"There's a lot more adrenaline than when you are pitching in front of 15,000 people and you know you aren't doing nothing but trying to get to the end of the year," said Oswalt, who landed with the Phillies in a July 29 trade with the last-place Astros. "There's a lot more excitement when you are in a pennant race."
Raul Ibanez, who entered July hitting just .236 with 36 RBI, continued his torrid stretch with his double off the wall in the seventh, giving the Phillies a 2-0 lead and improving to .364 with 22 RBI in his last 32 games . . .
Domonic Brown drew his first pro walk in his 41st plate appearance. But the Phillies seem to be leaning heavily toward returning the rookie outfielder to Triple A Lehigh Valley tomorrow, when centerfielder Shane Victorino is expected to be activated from the disabled list. Brown was called up July 28, the same day the Phillies put Victorino on the DL with what they have called a strained abdominal muscle. Brown has had some bright spots, and on Tuesday hit his first big-league homer, but there probably won't be room to get him regular playing time once Victorino returns. Plus, the Phils feel Brown can still use some polish, particularly with route running in the outfield.
"I think any young player is better served by getting regular at-bats," assistant general manager Scott Proefrock said. "He's had an opportunity to be in a pennant race and he's done very well while he's been up here. But I think [manager] Charlie [Manuel] spoke to this the other day with regards to Shane. You're not going to have Shane lose his job because of injury. Domonic still has some things to work on at the minor league level before he's ready to play every day."
For more Phillies coverage and opinion, read David Murphy's blog, High Cheese, at http://go.philly.com/highcheese. Follow him on Twitter at