Phillies drop finale after Fish rally late

Phillies drop finale after Fish rally late

PHILADELPHIA -- For evidence of the steady rain that nearly turned the Citizens Bank Park infield into the Delaware River, look to Tadahito Iguchi.

Not even an endless supply of Diamond Dry could stop Iguchi's brief slip while trying to cover first base on a ninth-inning sacrifice attempt. The slight misstep loomed big in Philadelphia's 4-2 loss to Florida.

With the game tied at 2, Mike Jacobs started the final inning with a line-drive single to right off Brett Myers (2-4), snapping a career- and franchise-worst 0-for-33 stretch. Miguel Olivo bunted the next pitch to the mound, and Myers fielded it.

What Myers didn't see was that Iguchi couldn't get his footing on his first step toward the base. Iguchi couldn't recover, causing him to arrive late.

"I was anticipating the bunt," said Iguchi of the rotation play in which he's responsible for first base. "I slipped and couldn't get my first step."

That extra out changed an inning that turned uglier when Myers walked Jeremy Hermida -- who earlier in the at-bat had shown bunt -- loading the bases with no outs.

"That was the key," Myers said. "I don't have any excuses. I didn't make good pitches. Walking Hermida summed up the way things were going."

Two forceouts accounted for a pair of runs and saddled Myers with his fourth loss of the season. Three of Florida's runs came on groundouts in which the team avoided a double play.

"I thought we had a shot at a few double plays but couldn't get the calls," Iguchi said. "It's very upsetting because it's a loss."

It's a big loss, considering that it came hours after the Mets and Padres were defeated, giving the Phillies a chance to pick up a game in the National League East standings or gain a share of the NL Wild Card lead. Philadelphia remains four games behind New York, but has dropped to third in the division, behind Atlanta. San Diego's loss to St. Louis keeps Philadelphia a game out of the Wild Card race.

Starter Kyle Kendrick continued his brilliant rookie run with his third straight seven-inning effort, this time allowing two runs on six hits, with one walk and one strikeout in soggy conditions that can be dangerous for a ground-ball pitcher.

"It was slippery on the mound, and I could see how bad it was," Kendrick said. "On days like that, you have to pitch better. In high school we played in similar conditions. In these conditions, the defense played great behind me."

Using his best command of the season -- of his 71 pitches, only 20 were balls -- Kendrick got 14 ground-ball outs, including nine of the first 10. In other words, a typical effort.

"Kendrick pitched a heck of a game, considering the conditions," manager Charlie Manuel said.

Nearly matching Kendrick was Florida's Sergio Mitre, who allowed two runs in one fewer inning of work. His sole blemish came in the sixth, when Greg Dobbs launched a bases-loaded, two-run ground-rule double. Had the shot not bounced over the center-field wall, Aaron Rowand would have easily scored from first with the third run of the inning.

Though Kendrick had thrown only 71 pitches, Manuel lifted him for a pinch-hitter in the seventh, after Carlos Ruiz walked. Wes Helms was sent up to bunt, leading to much second-guessing. Manuel explained that he wanted Helms in there in case he worked a favorable count, allowing the Phillies to potentially change the play to a hit-and-run.

"He's a good bunter," Manuel said. "I sent him up there to bunt."

Helms struck out.

Manuel also said that he didn't consider lifting Kendrick with no one on and two outs in the fifth, with the Phillies trailing, 1-0, and rain potentially washing away the game at that point. Manuel didn't want to possibly spend his bench too early.

The rain continued, but with the threat of a downpour looming, the teams kept playing in the miserable conditions.

"It was wet and nasty out there," Myers said, but he would not blame the weather for his performance. "I didn't make my pitches. I couldn't throw a strike. What are you going to do? I thought I made good pitchers there to try and get out of the inning with no outs, but it didn't work out."

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