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Sabathia finally runs out of gas in Philly

Chris Ruddick, MLB Editor

Rounding Third Logo Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Nobody in Milwaukee is going to remember CC Sabathia's heroics down the stretch that almost single-handedly got the Brewers into their first postseason in 26 years.

Instead, and probably unfortunately, Sabathia's legacy as a Brewer will be what transpired in Game 2 of the National League Division Series on Thursday. Provided of course, the Philadelphia Phillies take care of business in either of the next two games to be held at Miller Park.

If you don't believe me, ask a Houston Astros fan what they think of Randy Johnson. The Big Unit went 12-1 for the Astros after coming over from Seattle midway through 1998. However, Houston lost in four games to the San Diego Padres in the NLDS that year, with Johnson on the hook for two of the team's three defeats.

Pitching on three days' rest for the fourth straight time, an obviously gassed Sabathia failed to get out of the fourth inning and served up five runs -- four of which came courtesy of a Shane Victorino grand slam -- and six hits while walking four batters.

"I don't feel like starting on three days' rest had anything to do with it, or anything like that," Sabathia said. "I just think [on Thursday] I didn't make pitches when I needed to."

A lot is going to be made about Phillies starting pitcher Brett Myers' terrific nine-pitch at-bat in the pivotal second inning, but Sabathia was already working on fumes at that point. Myers' at-bat was probably the icing on the cake, though, as his walk was followed two batters later by Victorino's blast.

In all Sabathia threw 98 pitches and 19 to Myers, who was hitting .069 this season.

"I had two strikes on him, 0-2," Sabathia added. "Ended up walking him. This game for me was about finishing, finish everything, finishing innings. Two strikes (on Myers), two strikes on Victorino, just not finishing."

It's hard to argue with Milwaukee manager Dale Sveum's decision to throw the big left-hander on short rest, considering how good he was in September, but you have to wonder if he should have chose to go with a fully-rested Sabathia in Game 3, with the hopes he could provide a couple of innings out of the bullpen should a Game 5 be necessary.

It is easy to second-guess the decision now, given the circumstances, but Sabathia has never been an effective pitcher in the postseason. So why pitch him for the fifth time since September 16, on the road no less, when you could have your ace at home on Saturday with a chance to steal the momentum, or even take a lead in the series had things gone differently on Thursday with another pitcher on the hill?

Are you telling me that Dave Bush couldn't have given you what Sabathia did on Thursday? But now you have Bush, who has never made a playoff start, on the hill Saturday with your season on the line.

For those keeping score, by the way, Sabathia has now allowed 17 earned runs in his last three postseason starts -- all losses.

PHILS' BIG THREE STILL NOT CLICKING

Before anyone gets too excited about the Phillies here, keep this in mind. All eight of their runs have come in two innings of this series.

Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Pat Burrell were a combined 0-for-10 with seven strikeouts in Thursday's win. The trio has just one hit in 17 at-bats through the first two games, and that was Utley's two-run double in the third inning of Wednesday's victory that probably should have been caught by center fielder Mike Cameron.

Despite their lack of production, Philly is up 2-0 in a series for the first time since taking a two games-to-none lead over the Kansas City Royals in the 1980 World Series, a matchup eventually won by the Phils in six games.

LOOKING AHEAD TO GAME 3

So it will be Bush opposing the ageless Jamie Moyer at Miller Park on Saturday.

Bush hasn't seen the win column since an August 29 victory over Pittsburgh and was 9-10 with a 4.18 ERA this season .

Sveum could have gone with veteran Jeff Suppan here, but likely stayed away from the 2006 NLCS MVP thanks to his career struggles against the Phillies. In 12 starts against them, the 33-year-old right-hander is 3-6 with a 6.13 ERA.

Bush, though, hasn't fared much better in six lifetime starts versus Philadelphia. He has yet to record a decision in any of those outings, but has pitched to a 5.88 ERA.

Moyer, meanwhile, has been an unheralded star for the Phils this season, going 16-7 with a 3.71 ERA at the age of 45.

The veteran left-hander has made just five postseason starts over the course of his 22-year career, however, going 3-1 with a 2.43 ERA. He did not get a decision against the Colorado Rockies in last season's NLDS, but gave up just one earned run in six innings of that one.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Chris Ruddick at cruddick@sportsnetwork.com.

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