PHILADELPHIA (AP)—Throughout spring training, Charlie Manuel stressed the importance of a strong start to the Philadelphia Phillies.
So much for those speeches: The Phillies are 0-4 for the first time in 19 years.
“We kind of stink,” Manuel said. “We got to get better.”
The Phillies began 0-4 in 1987, losing twice on the road and twice at home. They hadn’t started with four losses at home since 1977 when they finished 101-61 and won the second of three consecutive NL East titles.
A poor April last season—they were 10-14—proved costly when the Phillies finished one game behind NL wild-card winner Houston and two games behind division winner Atlanta.
“We’re in a little funk,” Manuel said. “It seems we can’t get going, but we have a much better club than that. We’re going to win some games and we’re going to compete.”
Brett Tomko pitched six effective innings and the Dodgers took advantage of sloppy defense on a day they learned closer Eric Gagne will miss six to eight weeks following surgery to remove a nerve in his pitching elbow.
“The pitching coach said just to throw your best stuff,” Kuo said. “I felt good and I had good location and a good fastball.”
The trio of pitchers retired 15 straight batters before pinch-hitter David Dellucci hit a two-out double in the ninth.
“It was outstanding,” Dodgers manager Grady Little said of his bullpen. “Kuo gave us what we were looking for and Baez did fine.”
Jason Repko started the game with a single against Gavin Floyd, stole second and scored when Jose Cruz Jr.’s grounder bounced away from first baseman Ryan Howard for an error. James Loney’s two-out triple into the right-field corner made it 2-0.
The Phillies scored three times in the fourth on a pair of homers. Pat Burrell went deep to start the inning. Sal Fasano hit a two-run shot into the upper deck in left-center field to cut the deficit to 5-3. It was Fasano’s first hit for the Phillies.
Floyd (0-1) lasted just 2 2-3 innings, allowing five runs—three earned— and six hits. None of Philadelphia’s starters—Jon Lieber, Brett Myers, Cory Lidle and Floyd—have pitched more than five innings, and they have a 9.56 ERA.
“He didn’t have command of his fastball, so it was a little rough for him,” Fasano said of Floyd. “It was his first start so he was a little nervous. The positive was nobody hit the ball real hard.”
Baez had 41 saves for Tampa Bay last season, but was acquired in a trade to be Gagne’s setup man.
Dodgers SS Rafael Furcal was scratched from the lineup because of a bruised right shin. … Before Fasano homered, his bat sailed into the stands on a missed swing and glanced off a young boy sitting behind the Dodgers dugout. The child was not injured. … Loney’s triple and RBI in the first inning both were career-firsts. … Tomko pitched on his 33rd birthday.