Bullpen lets one slip away in LA

Bullpen lets one slip away in LA

LOS ANGELES -- The "L" appeared next to J.C. Romero's name, near his sparkling 2.30 ERA, punishment for an inside fastball that Andre Ethier turned into a 4-3 Dodgers win over the Phillies on Tuesday night.

Chad Durbin received a "BS" (blown save) for his crime of loading the bases with no outs in the eighth inning and allowing the tying run to score, distracting from his sparkling 1.90 ERA.

Those two pitchers accepted responsibility for allowing another fine Cole Hamels performance turn into a seventh straight start without a victory, though neither was responsible on a night when Philadelphia's flagging offense didn't deliver.

"Last year, they said we left a lot of guys on base," manager Charlie Manuel said. "Now we're not getting guys on base."

Drawing Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers' 20-year-old pitching prodigy, nearly guaranteed a low-scoring game with Hamels as the opposition. The Phillies plated a run in each of the first three innings against the rookie lefty, giving Hamels as many runs as he received in his previous two starts combined.

Chase Utley smacked his 30th homer of the season in the first, becoming the sixth player in team history to have 30 doubles and 30 homers in the same season at least twice. After Los Angeles answered in the bottom of the inning, Chris Coste scored on Hamels' infield single in the second and Pat Burrell added a sacrifice fly in the third.

Hamels retired 13 straight after allowing a run in the first, until Juan Pierre bunted for a leadoff single in the sixth. Three batters later, Manny Ramirez fought off inside pitches before singling to center on an outside offering, cutting the Phils' lead to 3-2.

"I would've loved for it to be down, but I think he still would have hit it," Hamels said. "He's that good. He's a phenomenal hitter. There's a reason why he has a .300 career average."

Kershaw blanked Philadelphia in innings four through six, recording six of his eight whiffs, including five in a row at one point. The Phillies didn't have a hit after Jimmy Rollins' double in the third.

"He threw a fastball that has two or three gears, and has a phenomenal hook," Hamels said. "He's got the making of being a top-notch guy."

Top notch or not, it's tough to distinguish with an offense that has seemingly struggled against everyone. Though they entered the game second to the Cubs in runs scored, the Phillies mustered three or fewer runs for the 47th time this season. They're 8-39 in those games.

"It all evens out," Burrell said. "If he's pitching the way he is, we're going to score runs. It's unfortunate because he's had tough luck."

Hamels is 0-3 with a 3.60 ERA in his past seven starts, including being on the wrong side of two shutouts. He hasn't gotten much run support all season, entering Tuesday ranked 51st out of 60 National League starting pitchers. He's received 4.27 runs per game.

Is he pulling his hair out?

"No, that was probably about three weeks ago," he said. "I've learned to overcome. I can't affect that sort of outcome. All I know is throw one pitch at a time. Wherever they hit it, so be it. The important thing is we're not winning as a team."

Hamels left after seven innings and 111 pitches, and Durbin began the eighth by allowing a single to Matt Kemp, walking Jeff Kent and hitting Ramirez on a 1-2 pitch. Casey Blake lofted a sacrifice fly to tie the game before Nomar Garciaparra grounded into an inning-ending double play.

"In those situations, you want to make them work," Durbin said. "When you walk a guy and hit a guy, that's not making him work. You need to make them get three or four consecutive hits."

After the Phils didn't score off Hong-Chih Kuo in the top of the ninth, Russell Martin was hit in the foot on Romero's first pitch in the bottom of the frame.

"Just trying to get ahead in the count, I jerked it a little bit," Romero said. "One of those things. One of those days."

Martin moved to second on a ball James Loney hit off Ryan Howard's glove which turned into the first out. Ethier then sliced a ball to left, and Martin slid in just ahead of So Taguchi's throw to catcher Chris Coste.

The loss tightened up the National League East race, with the victorious Mets and Marlins climbing within one and 1 1/2 games, respectively.

"They were right there with us," Manuel said. "They came through in the big moment. They got the hit where we couldn't in the ninth. Give the Dodgers credit. They got the hit when they had to. We didn't."

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