The story of Friday night's enervating 2-0 loss to the Pirates--the eighth shutout the Phillies have absorbed in 78 games this season--was told in a handful of at-bats in the bottom of the fourth and top of the sixth innings. In the home fourth, the Pirates scored their only two runs on a bases-loaded dribbler off the bat of Andy LaRoche toward third base that Jamie Moyer fielded and threw wide of Ryan Howard at first base, allowing Andrew McCutchen and Ryan Doumit--who had also reached on a dribbler to third. In the top of the sixth, after Raul Ibanez doubled and Howard walked with two outs, Ben Francisco hit a sinking liner toward right field... which Lastings Milledge snared on a fine sliding catch to end the inning.
That was about it in a game fully as uninspiring and uninspired as you'd expect of a 2-0 loss to a team that hasn't had a winning record since Dan Quayle was the vice-president. Pirates starter Ross Ohlendorf--he of the 0-6 record, 4.90 ERA, and 29/37 walk/strikeout ratio in 60.2 innings before the game--did what pitchers of his ilk now routinely do against a once-feared Phillies offense: seven innings, five hits, one walk, a season-high eight strikeouts. Three came against Jayson Werth, who seems again mired in one of those ferocious bouts of sucking that are the B-sides to tears like the one he was on against the Indians and the first game of the Blue Jays series just over a week ago. The only Phillie to have multiple hits was Wilson Valdez, who also stole a base.
His throwing error notwithstanding, Moyer was mostly brilliant yet again: six innings, five hits, two walks, eight Ks (also a season high). He might have kept going, but was lifted for Shane Victorino with Valdez on second and two outs in the top of the seventh. It took Ohlendorf one pitch, his last of the night, to induce a groundout to first.
And the beat, or rather the beatings, go on. With all the trade talk now surrounding the Phillies, the team's decision-makers will have to think long and hard about whether this increasingly dismal season is salvageable to a point where it's worth expending more young, cheap, rising talent after old, expensive, and declining.