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Greinke handcuffs Phillies as Dodgers roll, 6-0

LOS ANGELES - A night after falling victim to a dominant Clayton Kershaw, the Phillies ran into another buzz saw in Zack Greinke.

LOS ANGELES — A night after falling victim to a dominant Clayton Kershaw, the Phillies ran into another buzzsaw in Zack Greinke.

Greinke's incredible recent run of success reached a new apex Thursday night at Dodger Stadium, where the Los Angeles righthander allowed merely one hit over eight shutout innings. While lowering his already major-league best ERA, the former Cy Young Award winner sent the Phillies to San Francisco on the heels of a second consecutive shutout loss, 6-0.

The Phillies fell to a woeful 30 games under .500, the earliest in a season they have done so since 1997. Their 29-59 record puts them on pace for 109 losses, which would be their most since 1942 and two off the franchise record set in 1941.

Ryan Howard's single to left field to lead off Thursday's second inning proved the lone blemish to Greinke's spectacular night. The 31-year-old retired the final 21 batters he faced, extending his scoreless streak to 35 2/3 innings consecutive innings. That's the best such streak in the majors this season.

Greinke's incredible 1.39 pre-all-star break ERA is the lowest since 1981 (Bob Knepper and Nolan Ryan). It's the second lowest at the break in Dodgers history (since 1933) behind only Don Drysdale, who posted a 1.37 first-half ERA in 1968.

"He's the whole package, obviously. He's more impressive than the guy (Wednesday) night," Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin said. "We got the one hit until the ninth inning. He had all his pitches working. He's got command. He's got location. He's got velocity. He makes it look easy at times."

Yasiel Puig drove in four of the Dodgers' runs, a season-high. His two-run home run in the eighth against Hector Neris was his first since June 10. The polarizing Cuban rightfielder broke a scoreless tie in the fourth inning with a two-run, two-out double down the left-field line.

Phillies starter Severino Gonzalez allowed four runs over 5 2/3 innings. The 22-year-old righthander from Panama was promoted from triple-A Lehigh Valley on Tuesday for his fourth stint with the club. Mackanin pulled him after Jimmy Rollins ripped a sinker down the right-field line for a double that put two runners in scoring position.

Two innings after Puig's double, Adrian Gonzalez tacked on more with a sixth-inning, two-run shot off the right-field foul pole. It was his second home run of the series and his 17th of the season.
Like Kershaw the night before, one run was plenty for Greinke, who will pitch in his third All-Star Game on Tuesday in Cincinnati. He may even start.

"Everything was pretty good," Greinke said. "Location was good. I got ahead in the count and when you get a couple outs and no one's on base, you can attack them. We got a couple runs so you can attack even more. It was kind of the perfect combination of things."

Greinke has not lost to the Phillies since 2004, winning each of his last five starts against them. He recorded eight strikeouts and did not issue a walk, and threw 94 pitches, 63 for strikes, before Alex Guerrero pinch-hit for him. Asked after the game if he wanted to pitch the ninth, Greinke responded, "I did but it didn't hurt my feelings not to, either."

In the live ball era (since 1920), only Drysdale (1968) and Orel Hershiser (1988), each with six consecutive, have compiled more than Greinke's five consecutive scoreless starts in a single season.

"I think what's frustrating about Greinke is I think a lot of hitters, they see it good, and then when you go to swing it just moves off your barrel," Cody Asche said. "That's what makes him tough. I think he knows that, too. He kind of feeds off the hitters, off their aggression. I think he's good at reading hitters and feeding off it."

It doesn't get any easier for the Phillies, who face reigning World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner on Friday. The Giants, at least, have lost eight of their last nine games. Their Wednesday loss to the New York Mets dropped them back to .500.

"We hope we can catch somebody at a bad time and continue to swing the way the bats the way we were before we faced these last two guys," Mackanin said. "We've got Bumgarner (Friday) so that's another pretty good pitcher.

"As long as the guys are competing, I'm happy with it. We're doing the best we can, and we're going to just keep trying to take it to 'em."