The Phils limped home last night following a third straight loss to the Braves at Turner Field and for the first time in more than a month find they are no longer in sole possession of first place. While still atop the standings in the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News, they are no doubt listed second in the Miami Herald.
That's OK; they weren't in first place at this juncture of the 2008 season either. What's not OK is the way they are playing. As Charlie Manuel pointed out yesterday, they are consistently losing late, something they avoided in the first part of the season when, truth be told, they needed more than a few Houdini routines to win some games late. Back then I wrote they couldn't keep up their high wire act. It didn't take a genius to come to that conclusion!
J.A. Happ pitched well enough to keep his mates in the game, but what little is left of Ryan Madson's ego melted down even further when he surrendered three runs to the Braves in the bottom of the eighth inning. That was all she wrote.
Manuel can be excused if he tries to avoid handing the ball to Madson or Lidge henceforth, but what is he going to do? J.C. Romero is hardly a closer and no one else on this roster is either.
The only good news last night is that Jimmy Rollins stroked two base hits to break an o for 28 slump, the worst of his career. Jimmy didn't ask for the ball on his first hit, a soft ground ball in the hole between first and second.; however, the camera showed him chatting up Braves first baseman Casey Kotchman in classic J-Roll fashion. Glad to see someone was happy.