The Sports Xchange

MLB Team Report - Philadelphia Phillies - INSIDE PITCH

PHILADELPHIA -- When the Phillies called up Darin Ruf on July 22 and then gave the first baseman/outfielder back-to-back starts instead of a slumping Ryan Howard back on July 24-25, many were wondering if manager Ryne Sandberg was going to start a platoon at first base.

Instead, Ruf has been mostly a bench piece over the last few weeks, though he earned his seventh start since that call-up against lefty Jon Niese and the Mets on Monday -- albeit as a left fielder.

"I kinda think I'm going to get some action against some lefties, so I was ready to go today," he said. "It was nice to get in there."

Though his two-run home run in the fourth inning provided the Phillies' only offense over the first eight innings of the game, Ruf was still removed for pinch-hitter Grady Sizemore to begin the ninth.

"That's baseball," he said. "They had a righty on the mound and Grady's swinging it well, so look at the matchups. That's why I started today because a lefty was pitching. You play the matchups and hope it works out."

Ruf has shown he can hit the ball -- especially at Citizens Bank Park, where his .929 OPS in 63 games at the stadium since Sept. 4, 2012 ranks 14th in MLB amongst players with at least 200 plate appearances at home. Away from CBP is a different story, as he's hitting just .205 with a .663 OPS in road games for his career.

But hitting well with consistent playing time is one thing; doing it when only playing every few days is something else entirely.

"Talking to some of the guys that have done it over the years, it's really important to keep the same routine every day in the cage," he said. "It's really easy to try to experiment and tinker with things and you can't because the second you do that, things are off in the game. You have to be really consistent and stay really in tune to what you're doing."

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MLB Team Report - Philadelphia Phillies - NOTES, QUOTES

RECORD: 53-66

STREAK: Lost one

NEXT: Phillies (RHP Jerome Williams, 2-5, 6.71 ERA) at Angels (LHP C.J. Wilson, 8-8, 4.82 ERA)

PLAYER NOTES:

--RHP David Buchanan went six-plus innings on Monday afternoon in a start against the Mets, taking the loss to drop his record to 6-6. The rookie pitcher gave up three runs (all earned) in six innings, with five strikeouts against just one walk; he had only allowed one run and three hits through the six innings before running into trouble to start off the seventh. He's allowed three earned runs or fewer in 10 of his 12 starts this season, and each of his last eight.

--RHP Jerome Williams was announced as Tuesday's starter after Monday afternoon's loss. The Phillies claimed Williams off waivers on Sunday from Texas, designating Sean O'Sullivan for assignment in a corresponding move. In 28 combined games this season (two starts) with both Houston and Texas, Williams is 2-5 with a 6.71 ERA.

--2B Chase Utley was given the day off on Monday, but would enter the game in the ninth inning to pinch hit. With the Phillies down 5-2, Utley's ground-rule double to right field got him his 30th RBI of the season and improved his average to .289. It was Utley's 20th career pinch hit (20-for-57, .351), with eight of those hits going for extra bases.