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PIT@PHI: Doc strikes out eight over six strong frames

PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies setup man Mike Adams could not locate his pitches Wednesday, which was apparent after the first batter he faced in the eighth inning at Citizens Bank Park.

He knew it, too.

"I was just flat-out bad," he said following the 5-3 loss to the Pirates.

The Phillies had been 6-0 when leading after the sixth inning this season before the bullpen truly blew its first game of the year. But while the bullpen would receive most of the attention for its failed efforts, erasing a fine effort from Roy Halladay and rare home runs from Chase Utley and Ryan Howard against left-handed pitching, the Phillies' offense truly laid the groundwork for this loss. Philadelphia outhit the Pirates, but could not come up with the big hits despite several opportunities to take a comfortable lead.

"Yeah, obviously you're not going to capitalize on every opportunity," Utley said. "The more opportunities you have the better chance you have, but it's time to start capitalizing on them."

Howard agreed.

"We had like 10 hits, and just couldn't capitalize," he said. "At some point, it's cliché, but it's bound to turn. The only thing we can do is keep swinging and keep hitting the ball and sooner or later it all evens itself out."

Left-hander Antonio Bastardo allowed a solo home run to Pedro Alvarez in the seventh inning to cut the Phillies' lead to 3-2. Bastardo had been spectacular in his first eight appearances this season, allowing just two hits, one unearned run, three walks and striking out seven in 7 1/3 innings.

Adams started the eighth with a 2.00 ERA in 10 appearances, walking two and striking out 14 in nine innings. But he struggled from the jump, walking pinch-hitter Jose Tabata to start the inning. An infield single to Starling Marte and a single to right from Travis Snider scored Tabata to tie the game at 3. Adams then walked Andrew McCutchen to load the bases.

Left-hander Jeremy Horst replaced Adams with the bases loaded and no outs. He allowed a single to pinch-hitter Brandon Inge to hand the Pirates a one-run lead, but otherwise got out of the inning.

But the nice story about Halladay putting together his third consecutive quality start to pick up his third win of the season had vanished.

Halladay allowed one hit, one run, two walks and struck out eight in six innings. He has a 1.71 ERA in his last three starts, allowing eight hits, four runs, five walks and striking out 16 in 21 innings. But like his previous start against the Cardinals, he got into too many deep counts. Halladay threw 25 pitches in the first inning and 95 pitches (57 strikes) overall.

"If I can stay there and be a little more effective early in the game, that would be ideal," Halladay said.

Utley homered to right field in the first inning to give the Phillies a 1-0 lead. Howard crushed a 0-2 curveball into the second deck in right field for a solo home run in the fourth inning to make it 2-1.

It was just the sixth time in Howard's career he had homered on a 0-2 count, and the first time since July 9, 2008, when he homered against Cardinals right-hander Kyle McClellan. It was just the second time in his career he had homered on a 0-2 count against a left-hander. The first came against Mets lefty Oliver Perez on Aug. 26, 2006.

Coincidence or not, on the first night Phillies manager Charlie Manuel split up Utley and Howard in the lineup, both homered.

"It was good to finally run into one," Howard said. "It felt pretty good."

But the Phillies needed more offense, which has been a familiar story. They squandered excellent opportunities in the fourth and fifth innings. They had runners on second and third with one out in the fourth, but could not score. They had runners on the corners with no outs in the fifth, but could not score. The fifth inning involved Michael Young hitting into a 5-4-2 double play, when the Pirates got the force at second and threw home to get Jimmy Rollins at the plate.

It was the second out Rollins made on the bases.

"We talked about it," Manuel said. "If you read where the third baseman is at, he goes home and if he goes home he gets in a rundown. He is going there, but you can read where the third baseman is at. The third baseman didn't hesitate to go to second base. He was turning the double play."

So it was just another night of Phillies pitchers needing to be perfect. They weren't.

"We had chances," Manuel said of the offense. "They were there for us."

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