Phillies drop fourth in last five after Ohlendorf picks up light-hitting Pirates

PITTSBURGH -- Philadelphia Phillies manager Charlie Manuel made his point so emphatically, he found himself thumping his hand on a clubhouse desk.

Injuries can't be an excuse for not winning or not hitting. The two-time defending NL champions still have enough talent to win, despite being without one-third of their lineup, their manager insisted. Even if there's been no proof of that against last-place Pittsburgh.

Ross Ohlendorf became the third Pirates starting pitcher in as many days to win for the first time this season, limiting the slumping Phillies to five hits over seven innings during a 2-0 victory Friday night.

The seemingly ageless Jamie Moyer was masterful at age 47 in his 625th career start, but two infield singles by the Pirates that barely traveled 90 feet combined and the pitcher's throwing error led to Philadelphia's fourth loss in five games.

Ohlendorf (1-6) was 0-8 in 16 starts since Aug. 18 before striking out eight and walking one against a lineup that was missing the injured Chase Utley, Placido Polanco, Carlos Ruiz and was also without Shane Victorino, who was rested.

Despite losing to the Pirates for the second straight night, the Phillies are 41-37, the same record they had at this stage last season.

"We've got to keep our heads above water. We got to stay in the race and it's up to us to do that," Manuel said of a team that has seven players on the disabled list. "In the past, we've been fortunate enough to do that and that's what we've got to do again. This is a big test for us."

Still, he said, the Phillies' current struggles should make everyone understand that winning isn't automatic, regardless of a team's previous success.

"This game's hard. This is not an easy game, man," he said. "Just because you hit yesterday doesn't mean you'll hit tomorrow."

Before the game, Manuel said two Phillies needed to get hot and carry the offense. But it didn't happen against Ohlendorf, who hasn't allowed an earned run over 14 innings in his last two starts.

"Before, I really struggled the second time through, the third time through the lineup," Ohlendorf said. "The last two [starts], I continued to make good pitches. That's the big difference."

The right-hander got key outs when needed, retiring Ben Francisco on an excellent sliding catch by right fielder Lastings Milledge with two on in the sixth and pinch-hitter Victorino on a grounder with a runner on second an inning later.

"I feel that I had to take a shot right there," Milledge said of what might have been a game-saving catch. "I'm pretty sure Ross wanted me to take a shot at it, too. I've got to make that play for him."

Moyer (9-7), coming off three consecutive victories, struck out Garrett Jones and Milledge after Andrew McCutchen singled to start the fourth. But Ryan Doumit beat out a dribbler down the line that was out of the range of both Moyer and third baseman Greg Dobbs.

After Bobby Crosby walked, Andy LaRoche hit a nearly identical slow roller toward third that Moyer picked up hastily. He threw wildly down the first base line, with McCutchen and Doumit scoring and LaRoche credited with one RBI.

"I didn't know if I had a play in picking it up, but it was deeper than the first swinging bunt and I felt like it was a do-or-die play," said Moyer, who struck out eight, walked two and allowed five singles in six innings.

Ohlendorf and two relievers didn't need any more runs than that against an offense that is struggling to score runs again, much like the Phillies were a month ago when they scored 14 runs in 11 games. Philadelphia was shut out for the eighth time.

Octavio Dotel finished up in the ninth for his 18th save in 21 opportunities -- and his 15th in 16 tries -- after Joel Hanrahan pitched the eighth.

Ohlendorf's win followed those by rookies Brad Lincoln on Wednesday (Cubs) and Daniel McCutchen on Thursday (Phillies).

"Anybody who picks up a ball can go out there and beat you," Manuel said.

Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins was struck by a pitch in the third, but Ohlendorf's fastball appeared to only graze the bill of Rollins' batting helmet, which flew off. Rollins wasn't shaken up and quickly went to first base after being checked momentarily by a trainer.

Game notes
The Pirates are 22-0 when leading after eight innings. ... Phillies C Brian Schneider apparently won't go on an already crowded DL with a hyperextended left thumb, but was held out. ... Pirates LH Zach Duke (strained elbow) threw 46 pitches in a bullpen session and is expected to make the first of two rehabilitation starts Monday for Double-A Altoona.