Philadelphia has been able to count on its relievers all season, so it’s not too concerned about Saturday’s meltdown.
The Phillies’ bullpen hopes to bounce back Sunday as the NL East leaders continue a four-game series with the New York Mets at Citizen Bank Park.
Philadelphia’s bullpen entered play Saturday with the best ERA in the majors at 2.62, but was pounded for six runs in 2 1-3 innings in a 9-4 loss to the Mets (43-44). The Phillies (48-40) owned a 4-3 lead entering the eighth inning before losing for the first time in five games.
J.C. Romero allowed two runs while recording one out and was charged with the loss. Rudy Seanez was charged with three runs while recording two outs, and Tom Gordon allowed one run while getting two outs.
“Our bullpen’s done an outstanding job for us. It’s why we are where we are,” said starter Jamie Moyer, who went 6 2-3 innings. “The effort was there, we just fell short. Our bullpen’s been a big plus for me.”
Philadelphia’s bullpen threw 4 1-3 scoreless innings Friday as the Phillies rallied in the ninth for a 3-2 win, and had yielded only four earned runs in the previous four games. The relievers will likely get a chance to bounce back Sunday—starter Kyle Kendrick (8-3, 4.58 ERA) has gone six or fewer innings in 12 of his 17 starts this season.
Easley is batting 12-for-24 with six RBIs during a seven-game hitting streak.
“That was big for us to break through,” manager Jerry Manuel said.
Ryan Howard remained hot for the Phillies, connecting for his 23rd homer— one shy of teammate Chase Utley for the major league lead. Howard, who leads the NL with 76 RBIs, is batting .323 (10-for-31) with four homers during an eight-game hitting streak, although he’s just 6-for-33 (.182) against the Mets this season.
The Phillies own a 3 1/2-game lead over second-place Florida in the NL East, and a 4 1/2-game advantage over the third-place Mets.
They will try to bounce back Sunday behind Kendrick, who is 6-0 over his last 10 starts against NL opponents. He gave up three runs in six innings to win 8-3 Tuesday in Atlanta, as the Phillies improved to 13-4 in his starts.
“He’s definitely taken us to a point of the game where we can win,” manager Charlie Manuel said. “He’s been absolutely great for us.”
Kendrick is 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA in two previous starts against the Mets. He lasted just 2 1-3 innings against New York on April 9, allowing seven runs—one earned—and walking six in an 8-2 loss.
The Mets counter with Oliver Perez (6-5, 4.98), who is coming off one of his strongest starts of the season. He allowed one run and struck out eight in seven innings of last Sunday’s 3-1 win over the Yankees.
The left-hander, who has been up and down all season, bounced back after allowing six runs against Seattle five days earlier.
“If we can get Ollie to be consistent, which has been the dilemma for him his whole career, we will have an excellent pitcher, no question,” Manuel said.
Perez is 2-3 with a 3.83 ERA in 10 career starts against Philadelphia. In two outings against them this season, he has thrown 11 1-3 scoreless innings, earning one win.