Three homers not enough in Miwaukee

Phillies bullpen lets one slip away late

MILWAUKEE -- To Tadahito Iguchi, this was a tough loss in any language.

The quiet, polite Phillies second baseman non-verbally trumpeted his feelings after Brewers right fielder Corey Hart stole his attempt at a game-tying, ninth-inning homer on Saturday night. Iguchi leapt in the air and landed hard, then hurled his helmet as he descended the steps of the visitors' dugout.

"It felt good off the bat, and I was praying as I ran to the base, but the outcome was one the wrong side," Iguchi said trough his translator.

Three infield hits and one bad pitch from reliever Tom Gordon turned a simple, well-played victory into a 6-5 loss to Milwaukee, Philadelphia's fifth straight one-run loss at Miller Park, dating back to last season. Gordon coughed up a go-ahead, two-run homer to Prince Fielder in the bottom of the eighth inning.

"For me, it's a hard one to chew, because I let a good game get away," Gordon said. "Cole [Hamels] pitched great and deserved to win. And our team deserved to win."

Yet somehow, they didn't. Of the 53 losses the Phillies have accumulated during a season of missed opportunities and at time maddening inconsistency, this one really seemed to hurt. Hamels, the affable ace who allowed the Brewers back in the game with a three-run sixth inning, declined to speak to the media and quickly left the clubhouse. Manager Charlie Manuel also didn't talk about the defeat and his office door remained closed -- with the light off -- for at least 45 minutes, when the team cleared the clubhouse.

The players who remained in the clubhouse sat quietly, replaying how this game got away.

"It's not any more devastating than any other game that you're leading in and the team comes back and beats you," Aaron Rowand said. "It's one thing to go out there and getting your butt kicked. It's another when you're winning and you end up getting beat when you're ahead. It stinks."

Ah, so there's the distinction. This one really did hurt. Philadelphia had pounced on starter Dave Bush for three runs in the second inning, on Ryan Howard's 30th home run of the season, and a two-run shot by Pat Burrell, who's batting .450 with nine homers and 26 RBIs since July 1. Greg Dobbs added a solo shot in the fourth, and Carlos Ruiz doubled in the Phillies' fifth run in the sixth.

A win looked like a formality for Hamels, who entered the game at 12-5 and allowed two hits in the first five innings, one a solo homer to Brewers rookie phenom Ryan Braun.

Then came the sixth. The Brewers opened that frame with two infield hits -- Tony Graffanino's grounder pulled Howard far enough off the bag, and pinch-hitter Joe Dillon's short-hopper to Dobbs at third was slow enough that his throw to second was late.

J.J. Hardy, who broke up Hamels' no-hit bid on May 16 with a homer, smashed a double over Rowand in center field to drive in two, and Fielder singled to bring the Brewers within a run. Hamels escaped further damage when Chris Roberson made a running grab of Kevin Mench's line drive.

The eighth featured another dribbler on which Abraham Nunez couldn't make a play. That allowed Hardy to get to first. Since Gordon retired Braun on a pop out, Hardy's roller allowed Fielder to bat.

The Prince brought the Brewers back in a Flash, when he ripped a 1-2 laser into the right-field seats.

"I wanted it up and in," Gordon said. "I left it down and in and he dropped the head on it. He's a good hitter and that's definitely not a pitch you want to make. I missed a pitch and he made me pay."

Dejected, but knowing the Phils had three more outs, Iguchi stroked a ball that had home run distance off Francisco Cordero. But the 6-foot-6 Hart tracked it and made a leaping grab.

"I'm good for something I guess, my height," Hart said. "Any ball like that, you just try to get back to the wall as soon as you can. It kept carrying pretty good, so I just kept springing back as fast as I could. If I'm 5-foot-8, I don't get that ball."

And the Phillies are left wondering, not that anyone felt like talking about it.

"Every game is a must-win situation for this team," Iguchi said. "We were up in the game and felt like we could've taken it game. It gets on your nerves that this is a game we could've won. We turn have to turn the page and play better tomorrow."

Ken Mandel is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.