BOSTON — The Phillies appeared to catch a break even before Monday night’s game when the Boston Red Sox scratched American League ERA leader Clay Buchholz from his scheduled start.
In the end, however, all the Phillies caught was another loss.
Spot starter Alfredo Aceves, who entered the game with an 8.20 ERA, allowed just a run over six innings as the Phillies, hampered by faulty starting pitching and anemic run production, absorbed a 9-3 loss at Fenway Park (see Instant Replay).
The game wasn’t even that close.
Domonic Brown, one of the few bright spots on this often sorry-looking team, belted a two-run home run in the eighth inning to tighten the final outcome. Still, it was the Phils’ 12th loss by five or more runs.
“A loss is a loss,” manager Charlie Manuel said afterward.
The Phils have been particularly bad against American League clubs. They are 2-6 in interleague play this season and have been outscored 57-24 in those games.
“Lineups are deeper [in the AL],” Manuel said. “It seems like they hit us. Cleveland hit us. Tonight, these guys hit us.”
The Phils are not good against good teams. They are 12-20 against teams with records of .500 or better and 12-7 against teams with records under .500. Overall, the Phils are back to three games under .500. They have not been .500 since they were 6-6 on April 14.
The Phillies have an ace in Cliff Lee set to pitch Tuesday night and he’d better have some bullets in that left arm because Monday night’s starter, Tyler Cloyd, dug an early hole for his team and the Phils were forced to use five relievers for 5 2/3 innings to get through the game.
Three of the relievers — Mike Stutes, Jeremy Horst and Mike Adams — threw 30 or more pitches meaning there’s a possibility none of them will be available Tuesday night.
Adams, in his first work since coming off the disabled list, allowed a hit, three walks and a run in two-thirds of an inning in the eighth. Adams had initially been scheduled to throw a minor-league rehab game Monday. His timetable was moved up after he felt good, but “rusty” -- that was GM Ruben Amaro Jr.’s word -- throwing to hitters on Friday. Regardless of where Adams pitched Monday, he was not going to be available Tuesday. His work in a blowout Monday amounted to a rehab outing. Nonetheless, it just didn’t look good coming in a big-league game, not for a team that usually puts a high premium on making sure players are ready and sharp before they come off the DL. If Adams had still been on the DL, a reliever such as B.J. Rosenberg would still have been on the roster to help eat up innings in a blowout.
“He felt like he was ready to go,” Manuel said when asked about Adams’ schedule change.
Speaking on minor-league outings, Carlos Zambrano is about to throw again in Florida and his name will be mentioned more and more as the Phillies look the solidify the fifth spot in their rotation, which Cloyd currently fills.
Cloyd pitched well in his first two starts filling in for Roy Halladay, but it all got away from him Monday night. He allowed a pair of homers in the first inning -- one of which was a slice shot around the right-field foul pole by Dustin Pedroia.
In all, Cloyd allowed nine hits and six runs in 2 1/3 innings. He gave up five extra-base hits.
Cloyd does not light up radar guns. He has to keep the ball down. He didn’t -- and the Red Sox, who average five runs per game, feasted.
“I had some decent movement on the ball, but it was up in the zone and when that happens, it’s easier to hit,” Cloyd said. “Command for me, in my view, wasn’t there at all tonight. I had no control over my two-seamer and pitching behind in the count hurt. It just wasn’t happening tonight.”
By the end of the night, the scoreboard said the Phils had 11 hits, but they were also held to three or fewer runs for the 29th time in 51 games. They were 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position and left 10 men on base. Aceves is prone to walks -- 12 in 18 2/3 innings -- but the Phils' impatient hitters saw just 64 pitches in the first five innings.
Defensively, the Phils got a big play from centerfielder Ben Revere, who took away extra bases from David Ortiz with a terrific catch against the center-field wall in the fourth. Revere hit the wall hard and required an X-ray on his left elbow. It was negative. He was sore after the game so his status for Tuesday could be up in the air (see video).