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Floundering Phillies Avoid Mets Sweep

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By DAN GELSTON   AP Sports Writer

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Phillies star Jimmy Rollins was benched
after a pair of baserunning blunders Thursday in Philadelphia’s 3-2
win over the New York Mets.
Rollins was pulled for the start of the seventh inning after a
pair of mistakes in the sixth.

The former NL MVP failed to run hard on a dropped popup that
could have put him on second base. He stole second base, then was
caught in a rundown on a grounder and was tagged out.
Rollins drew the ire of Phillies fans earlier this month when he
jogged down the line on a grounder in a game at Miami. He met
privately with manager Charlie Manuel the next day. Manuel refused
to bench his All-Star shortstop then. He had no hesitation against
the Mets.

Kyle Kendrick (8-9) allowed solo homers in the first two innings
to Mike Baxter and Scott Hairston, but did not permit another run
before leaving with two outs in the eighth.
Jonathan Papelbon tossed a scoreless ninth for his 30th save as
the Phillies avoided a three-game sweep.

Kendrick retired 13 straight starting in the fourth inning and
won his fourth straight start. Kendrick has more wins than Cliff
Lee (3) and as many as Roy Halladay (8). Kendrick struck out six
and walked none.

Rollins got fans talking after his latest baserunning gaffes. He
popped up and appeared to be making a turn toward the dugout until
pitcher Jonathon Niese dropped the ball for an error and Rollins
dashed to first.

With Kendrick on third and Rollins on second, Kevin Frandsen hit
a grounder to second. Rollins took off for third with Kendrick
staying on the base and was tagged out.

It was the latest blunder in a disappointing season for the
Phillies. Rollins has been chewed out and benched by Manuel in the
past for not hustling. When he did it twice in one inning, Manuel
saw enough and yanked him.

The Phillies are far removed from the franchise that won the
last five NL East titles. Their lineup against Niese (10-8) seemed
more appropriate for spring training. Ty Wigginton in left and
Michael Martinez in right were the starting corner outfielders.
Catcher Steven Lerud made his major league debut and Frandsen
started at third.

Kendrick left to a standing ovation with runners on first and
second in the eighth.

Raul Valdes needed one pitch to retire Ike Davis on a grounder.
Baxter connected on the second pitch of the game for his first
career leadoff homer. Hairston hit a solo shot, his 15th, in the
second.

Frandsen had an RBI single in the third and Wigginton tied it
with a double in the fourth. Ryan Howard’s sacrifice fly in the
fifth put the Phillies up 3-2.

Niese gave up three runs and nine hits in six innings.
Lerud’s bloop single in the fourth was his first career hit
after nine years in the minors. The 27-year-old catcher was
originally Pittsburgh’s third-round draft pick in 2003. He bounced
around before getting the call when Brian Schneider went on the
disabled list.

NOTES: Phillies INF Hector Luna was outrighted off the 40-man
roster and elected free agency. The Phillies are now at 39 players
on the 40-man roster. … The Phillies are 2-7 at home against the
Mets this season.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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