PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- John Smoltz was bothered by a sore hamstring
and he started to tire in the sticky air. None of it slowed him
down enough to give him trouble with Philadelphia.
Smoltz (9-5) continued his run of brilliant starts, improving to
5-0 with three complete games in his last five starts. The
38-year-old Smoltz went 5-1 with a 2.50 ERA in June with complete
games in his last two starts.
Smoltz had a solid six-inning outing this time, giving up just
one run and five hits while striking out seven.
"The only thing that made it easier was two great three-run
homers," Smoltz said. "I probably didn't pitch my best, but I
made the pitches when I had to."
After pitching 43 1/3 innings in his last five starts, Cox
decided to give Smoltz a short stint because of a tender left
hamstring and a humid night. Smoltz said he hurt the hamstring a
couple of starts ago and pitched through it until Friday when he
said it "zapped him."
"Thankfully, I had my slider today because that was the pitch
that bailed me out," he said.
He mastered the fading Phillies, who lost for the 12th time in
16 games and were criticized before the game by closer Billy Wagner
who said the team wasn't good enough to get to the playoffs.
The Phillies (40-40) fell back to .500 for the first time since
Atlanta snapped a 1-all tie with a three-run fourth against
struggling starter Vicente Padilla (3-8).
Padilla gave up nine hits and four runs in four innings and lost
his third straight start.
"We have to get him going," manager Charlie Manuel said.
Padilla started the season on the disabled list while recovering
from right triceps tendinitis and has pitched poorly since
returning to the rotation on April 19. Only once in 12 starts has
he pitched six innings.
Before the game, general manager Ed Wade said Padilla needed to
show he was worthy of keeping his spot in the rotation.
"His location and the velocity on his fastball didn't seem like
it was there," Lieberthal said. "He's been a dominant pitcher
before. We're kind of waiting for him to get back there."
Reliever Geoff Geary didn't fare any better, giving up Jones'
major league-leading 26th homer in the sixth for a 7-1 lead. Jones
started July much the same way he ended June when he set the team
record for homers in a month with 13.
"He's having a lot better at-bats than he's ever had since he's
been here," Cox said.
Adam LaRoche hit a two-run homer in the ninth to make it 9-1.
The Phillies played without first baseman Jim Thome, who was
placed on the 15-day disabled list with tendinitis in his right
elbow, the second time the slumping slugger has been on the DL this
The Phillies recalled first baseman Ryan Howard from Triple-A
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to replace Thome. Howard was originally in
the starting lineup, but did not make it to the game on time and
was replaced at first by Tomas Perez.
Perez drove in Philadelphia's only run in the second.
Certainly this was the kind of game that drove Wagner to
criticize his team, first to a Philadelphia newspaper, then to the
rest of the media before the game.
Wagner admonished his teammates for not having enough intensity,
saying that when the Phillies get behind "we've quit."
"The way we're playing now, if anybody's fool enough to think
we're a playoff team the way we're playing right now, they're
crazy. We haven't played well," he said.
RHP Tim Worrell could be activated as early as Monday's
game against Pittsburgh. Worrell, who was the setup man for Wagner,
was 0-1 with a 9.82 ERA in 14 games, before going on the disabled
list on May 6 with personal issues. "There's still that unknown
with coming back, even though I have all this experience," he
said. ... LHP Randy Wolf had season-ending reconstructive elbow
surgery on Friday that could sideline the left-hander until next
July. Wolf will start rehab on July 19. ... Smoltz' seven
strikeouts gave him 2,494 in his career, moving him past Warren
Spahn for second on Atlanta's career list.