Pearce helps Pirates to 2-0 win in 12

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PHILADELPHIA (AP)—The potent Phillies offense is struggling right now and their manager isn’t sure why.

“I don’t have the answer for it,” Charlie Manuel said. “And I don’t think the players do either.”

Not exactly what one might expect from a division leader heading into the stretch run.

While the Phillies have scored the second-most runs in the National League, they were shut out for the second straight day, this time a 2-0 loss in 12 innings to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night. Philadelphia watched its NL East lead shrink to one game over the New York Mets, who beat the Florida Marlins 3-0.

The Phillies have gone 23 innings without scoring a run, and were last blanked in back-to-back games on Sept. 11-12, 1999, in Arizona. They’ve been held to two runs or fewer in 30 games this season, as opposed to 25 all of last season.

“We’re still in first place,” said Jimmy Rollins, who had two of the six Phillies hits. “We have to keep looking forward.”

Ryan Doumit started the 12th with a double off Phillies reliever Les Walrond (0-1). One out later, Pearce smacked a ball past third baseman Eric Bruntlett and down the left-field line, allowing Doumit to trot home for a 1-0 lead. A two-out, bases-loaded infield single by Freddy Sanchez gave the Pirates a little extra cushion.

T.J. Beam (1-1) pitched two scoreless innings of relief for Pittsburgh, and Craig Hansen tossed the 12th for his third save of the season and first since he was traded from the Boston Red Sox in the three-team Manny Ramirez deal on July 31.

Hansen got some help from Brandon Moss, who made a diving grab in left-center on Chase Utley’s fly ball with runners on first and second and one out. Moss threw to Sanchez covering second to try to double up Jimmy Rollins, but he made it back safely. Sanchez then spun and threw to first and doubled up Shane Victorino, who thought the ball had fallen in safely, to end the game.

“It was a great play,” Pirates manager John Russell said, “a very aggressive play. If that ball gets through, it’s a different story, but it was obviously a huge play.”

Though neither starting pitcher factored in the decision, Philadelphia’s Joe Blanton and Pittsburgh’s Paul Maholm controlled the game for the first seven innings.

Acquired by the Phillies last month in a trade with Oakland, Blanton allowed just one hit—a leadoff single by Doug Mientkiewicz in the fourth. Blanton walked two, tied a season-high with seven strikeouts and didn’t allow a Pirates runner past first base.

Maholm scattered five hits, walked three, and struck out a career-high 10, including five straight between the fifth and seventh innings.

“Paul’s been our go-to guy all year,” Doumit said. “If there’s a big game, we want him pitching.”

Pat Burrell nearly broke the deadlock in the eighth, but his two-out fly ball to left was caught at the fence by Moss on a night where the wind was blowing in from left field.

“When he hit it,” Manuel said, “I thought it was gone.”


Before the game, the Phillies inducted former 2B Juan Samuel into the team’s Wall of Fame. Samuel played for the Phils from 1983-89 and is the only player to reach double figures is doubles, triples, home runs and stolen bases in his first four major league seasons. … Philadelphia went 24 innings without scoring a run from Sept. 1-3, 2000, against the Los Angeles Dodgers. … Pittsburgh is 11-3 in extra-inning games, including nine straight wins. … Pirates SS Jack Wilson was a late scratch with right shoulder stiffness. He batted as a pinch-hitter in the 12th and reached base on an infield single. … Maholm has pitched at least six innings in 17 straight starts. … Blanton has surrendered just one run on five hits in his last two starts, a span of 14 innings. He allowed just one hit in a start for the first time in his career. … Doumit extended his hitting streak to nine games with a double in the 12th inning. … Utley went 0-for-5, snapping a 12-game hitting streak.

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