PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- This was one loss that wasn't going to be
added to Larry Bowa's tally.
"I guess it was coming, but there's never a right time,"
closer Billy Wagner said. "It was just a pleasure to play for Bo
and I enjoyed it. I hate to see it come to this."
Bowa led the Phillies to consecutive winning seasons for the
first time in 21 years, but Philadelphia failed to reach the
playoffs for the 11th straight season after coming in as favorites
to win the NL East.
"You never want to see this happen. It's a huge disappointment
that we didn't make the playoffs because of the kind of team we
have," third baseman David Bell said. "I don't think anyone's
pointing the finger at anyone. We all feel responsible."
Bowa did talk before the game -- and got into a shouting match
with a beat writer -- but left before general manager Ed Wade
announced the move. Bowa did issue a statement thanking the
organization and wishing them luck.
The Phillies had their third winning season in four years under
Bowa, but his fiery personality and win-at-all-cost mentality
clashed with a few of the laid-back players. Before Bowa took over
in 2001, the Phillies had losing records 13 of the previous 14
The Phillies are the losingest franchise in sports. No team in
any U.S. pro sport has lost more games than their 8,757.
Bench coach Gary Varsho managed the team Saturday and will be on
the bench for Sunday's finale.
Beckett, the World Series MVP last season, scattered seven hits
and struck out five in eight innings. With a 4-2 lead in the
seventh, Beckett put runners on second and third with one out, but
retired Chase Utley and Michaels on fly balls.
"He was tough in the clutch," manager Jack McKeon said. "It's
the Beckett we thought we'd see all season long."
Armando Benitez allowed pinch-hitter Ryan Howard's RBI double in
the ninth before picking up his 47th save. Perez was thrown out at
the plate with the potential tying run on Howard's double, running
through a stop sign from third-base coach John Vukovich. Utley
grounded out to second to end the game with the tying run at
"There was a bad exchange," said Varsho, who added he would
only take questions about the game.
McKeon was San Diego's vice president of baseball operations in
1988 when he replaced Bowa 46 games into the season.
"It's tough for me because I have a personal relationship with
him," McKeon said. "I gave him his first job."
Eric Milton (14-6), one of Philadelphia's big offseason
acquisitions, allowed two-run homers to both Lowell and Cabrera,
giving the lefty an NL-worst 43 allowed. Milton gave up only one
other hit, retired 14 straight in one stretch and struck out five
in seven innings.
Lowell is 6-for-11 in his career against Milton with three
Milton, a free agent, was 11-2 on June 4, but only 3-4 with 10
no-decisions since. He fell one win shy of matching his career-high
victory total set in 2001 with Minnesota.
Philadelphia's 85 wins -- with the season finale Sunday -- are one
shy of last year's total, but it's been considered a huge
disappointment after it boosted the payroll to $93 million and
traded for Milton Wagner.
Injuries -- and lack of a deep enough talent pool to replace key
starters -- sent the Phillies into a tailspin they could never
really recover from. After a 1-9 homestand in late August, Wade
failed to give Bowa a vote of confidence.
Kevin Millwood, Randy Wolf and Vicente Padilla -- three former
All-Stars -- missed about 35 starts. Ryan Madson was sidelined more
than a month and Wagner was out almost 11 weeks, spanning two
stints on the disabled list.
Bowa did have some players in the locker room voice their
"I would have liked him to get another chance," shortstop
Jimmy Rollins said.
McKeon will return to manage the Marlins in 2005, signing a
one-year contract extension. ... Varsho has been the bench coach
for the last three seasons. He hit .244 in an eight-year career
that included stops with the Cubs, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati,
Pittsburgh and the Phillies.