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McClung can't get third outs in loss No.10
PHILLIES 8, RAYS 5: The righty allows six runs with two down in his sixth consecutive defeat.
By MARC TOPKIN
Published June 19, 2006
Josh Paul watches as Seth McClung hands the ball to manager Joe Maddon after being taken out in the fifth. The Phillies scored four in the inning, capped by Ryan Howard's three-run homer that chased McClung.
PHILADELPHIA - Having earned his major league-high 10th loss, Seth McClung stood in front of his locker, clasped his hands and looked skyward, illustrating his faith that better days are indeed ahead.
As frustrating as it has been to lose six straight and lose them by making the same kind of mistakes, McClung insisted he had not lost hope that he would be successful.
"Everybody says this game will work itself out ... if you just play the game right and do the right things, that everything will be fine," McClung said.
"And that's what I try to do. I try to work hard. I leave everything I have on the field. In between my starts, I try to pay attention to what's going on. I try to learn from the other pitchers. I try to learn from the opposing pitcher. I chart other pitchers' games. I just focus on getting better and doing the right things, and this thing will work its way out."
Sunday, McClung again couldn't finish what he started and neither could the Rays, who lost a chance for a series sweep and a winning road trip with an 8-5 loss to the Phillies.
The Rays (29-41) got home runs from Russell Branyan and Carl Crawford, and they showed more spunk with an eighth-inning rally that featured five consecutive pinch-hitters (one shy of the major-league record).
But it wasn't enough to overcome McClung's mistakes, which extended his losing streak to six games.
A 3-0 lead disappeared as he let the Phillies back in by allowing two runs on three straight two-out hits in the third, then let them get ahead with four more runs with two outs in the fifth, including a three-run homer by Ryan Howard as the Phillies snapped a six-game losing streak.
"A lot of things happen with two outs. We can pinpoint several of those moments for him," manager Joe Maddon said.
"Again, it's a matter of finishing things off. It's a focus. It's a concentration. It's a learning curve. It's growing up and learning how to do that. But physically, he threw the ball good again. He was prepared. He went about his business great once again."
McClung didn't help himself on the mound, throwing a wild pitch that allowed the first run to score and walking Bobby Abreu ahead of Howard's opposite-field homer.
And he might have hurt himself at the plate, bunting the ball so hard in the fifth that - though it nearly went through for a base hit - the Phillies took the forceout at second and forced McClung to stay out on the bases on a smoking hot afternoon.
"He was trying to contribute at that point, and it almost worked, but it may have backfired in regards to stamina," Maddon said.
Over his six-game losing streak, McClung has allowed 31 runs on 39 hits and 18 walks in 31 innings for a 9.00 ERA. Overall, he is 2-10 with a 6.81 ERA and hasn't won since May 12.
Maddon said that "as of right now" there are no plans to drop him from the rotation, that the Rays, too, think he can get past the "one bad inning" stage and put it together.
"What you saw today was typical," Maddon said. "We've got several of those starts by him. Physically, he's very gifted. He will retire bunches of batters in a row. But then this moment will creep up and boom-boom, they get several points all at once.
"When you look at his record, that's primarily why it looks that way."