Phillies lose 4th in a row

March 9, 2008 8:30:42 PM PDT
Ryan Howard hit his second homer of the spring, but the Toronto Blue Jays got four solid innings from Jesse Litsch in a 9-4 victory Sunday over the Philadelphia Phillies. Litsch, who lives in nearby Pinellas Park and is a former batboy for Tampa Bay, allowed two hits - including Howard's homer to right field. Making a bid for the fifth spot in Toronto's rotation, the right-hander struck out six and threw 39 of his 65 pitches for strikes.

"I was able to locate and my sinker was working really well," Litsch said. "I was able to locate in and out, just mixing pitches. That's how I need to be on the mound."

Vernon Wells had four RBIs and Aaron Hill hit a two-run double for the Blue Jays. David Eckstein also knocked in two runs.

Philadelphia's Kyle Kendrick, who came into camp with a spot in the rotation, didn't fair well. He lasted just two innings, yielding six runs and seven hits. He threw 40 pitches while facing 11 batters in the second, and his spring training ERA ballooned to 16.43.

Kendrick struggled with his control. He was 10-4 with a 3.87 ERA as a rookie last season.

"If this kept going until like June, then you should start panicking," said Kendrick, who walked two and struck out one on 45 pitches. "I know what I'm doing (wrong). I just need to go out there and make an adjustment. I need to get ahead. That's what I did all of last year, I got ahead, pounded the strike zone and moved the ball around."

Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee is confident Kendrick will get things corrected.

"In watching Kyle right now, first of all he's too strong," Dubee said. "He's a sinkerball guy and by not getting enough pitches and wearing himself down, his ball isn't acting like it usually does. He's going to be fine."

Pedro Feliz also homered for the Phillies.

Notes: Toronto OF Matt Stairs coaches high school hockey during the offseason. His team from Bangor, Maine, made it to the state Class B final four last Monday. "With me here I had two friends text-messaging me from the game," Stairs said. "My wife was laughing because I got one message from one person, then got an updated version from the other. I got over 600 text messages." His team lost 4-3 in the semifinals. ... Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said RHP Dustin McGowan won't face the Yankees on Tuesday. Gustavo Chacin could start instead. ... Toronto closer B.J. Ryan is slated to pitch in another simulated game Tuesday and a spring training game Friday.