Phils' rally falls short in opener
Howard's home run in homecoming spoiled by D-backs
PHILADELPHIA -- For a brief moment Monday night, the arc of the ball looked deep enough to spell some magic. But as Arizona's Carlos Quentin felt back for the right-field wall, a huge sigh went up from the 41,985 at Citizens Bank Park.Rod Barajas' shot wasn't deep enough. The Phillies' ninth-inning lightning fell silent in Quentin's glove, ending a three-game winning streak with the tying run on third and winning run on first in a 5-4 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks. D-backs left-handed starter Doug Davis notched the victory, moving to 3-6, while the Phils' Freddy Garcia took the loss, dropping to 1-4. Philadelphia dropped to 5-13 against left-handed starters this season. Garcia deserved a better fate. He achieved season highs for innings pitched (8) and strikeouts (9). He closed strong, retiring the last six batters he faced and striking out the last four. "I felt Garcia pitched a very good game, we put a little rally on in the end, we just couldn't catch them," manager Charlie Manuel said. "Davis' cutter was good, and he had a good, slow hook working tonight. He had good command of the cutter." And a good command of Phillies batters through eight innings. Davis' one mistake was a Ryan Howard solo homer in the seventh. Other than that, Philadelphia batters were baffled by Davis. "He's that guy who's going to hit his spots," Howard said of Davis. "He's not very overpowering, but he makes you swing at his pitches. He finds his spots." The Phillies did finally get to the D-backs in the ninth. Shane Victorino and Chase Utley both reached against Arizona right-handed reliever Jose Valverde, sending Howard to the plate with no outs. As he did earlier on the home run against Davis, Howard worked another good at-bat, battling back from being down 0-2 to working a full count. But this time, Valverde caught Howard looking at a called third strike on a breaking ball, which froze Howard. "I knew what [Valverde] was going to throw, and it was a good pitch, I just kind of lost where it was," Howard said. Valverde looked as if he had the game locked up, getting Aaron Rowand swinging for the second out of the ninth. But pinch-hitter Greg Dobbs added a new dynamic, taking a 1-2 Valverde pitch to deep right for a three-run homer and bringing the Phils to within 5-4. Pat Burrell then snapped an 0-for-17 slump with a single to right, and the D-backs defense made what could have been an awful lapse, when Carlos Ruiz's shot went through the legs of D-backs first baseman Conor Jackson, sending Michael Bourn, pinch-running for Burrell, to third with the tying run and Ruiz to first with the winning run. It created the hero scenario for Barajas, who came trudging in from the bullpen during the Ruiz at-bat to pinch-hit for Ryan Madson. Arizona's Brandon Lyon came in to pitch, giving Barajas some time to catch his breath. The Phils catcher battled Lyon, working a full count before sending Lyons' seventh pitch to deep right. Quentin backed up, reaching back for the wall before hauling in the last out. "I wasn't sure whether or not it was gone, but I know I made good contact," Barajas said. The Diamondbacks struck first on Jackson's two-run homer off Garcia. Quentin's sacrifice fly to right in the fourth made it 3-0. In the fifth, the Phillies mounted a minor rally when Rowand and Jayson Werth led off the inning with singles. But Davis coaxed an easy pop out by Abraham Nunez, then yielded a single to Ruiz that loaded the bases with Garcia up next. Garcia swung at the first pitch, a perfect comebacker to Davis, who got Rowand on the force at the plate and easily doubled up Garcia at first, ending the threat. "I wasn't going to pinch-hit for Garcia there," Manuel explained. "I felt we were going to score some more runs. Harmon Killebrew could have been on the bench, I wouldn't have pinch-hit for [Garcia]. I let Garcia hit because he's a first-ball hitter. I might as well let him swing." Before the ninth-inning fireworks, Howard got the Phils on the board with a solo blast to left. The opposite-field shot was Howard's first homer at Citizens Bank Park since April 25. Against Madson in the ninth, Jackson added to his big night with a two-run, two-out double down the third-base line, making it 5-1 Arizona. "I think it's a great thing we did in coming back," Utley said. "It was encouraging. We had the tying run on third and winning run on first." And just a few short of making magic happen.
Joseph Santoliquito is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.