The difference in the way these two clubs were built might explain why the Phillies are in position for a postseason berth and the Dodgers can't get any traction in the chase.
Monasterios, again forced into a spot start Tuesday night, lasted two-plus innings and was charged with five runs as the Phillies coasted to an 8-4 win. The loss was the third in the last four games for the Dodgers, who are fifth and trail the Phillies for the National League Wild Card berth by 6 1/2 games.
Monasterios, a Rule 5 rookie, made a leap from Class A last year to the Major Leagues when the pitching-thin Dodgers arranged a trade that landed him at last year's Winter Meetings. Manager Joe Torre tried to protect Monasterios by limiting his appearances to the reduced stress of long relief, but injuries forced the right-hander into a swing role. He's had 11 starts, including the ill-fated one Tuesday night in place of disabled Opening Day starter Vicente Padilla, and has lost his last five decisions after winning his first three.
Monasterios should have been refining his craft in the Minor Leagues this year and probably will next year, when the Dodgers will be allowed to send him down. Because of his Rule 5 status, he had to stay in the Major Leagues the entire season or risk being lost back to the Phillies. The only other Dodgers Rule 5 pick to stick with the club the entire season was D.J. Houlton in 2005, and he spent all of 2006 at Triple-A. He's now in his third year pitching in Japan.
"We'll have more flexibility and he'll pitch on a regular basis and that will probably help him," Torre said about Monasterios' status next year. "He needs regular work and what we're looking at next year is the ability to do that.
"If it wasn't for Padilla, he'd be that [reliever]. It's not like he's the fifth starter. That's a lot to expect. Because he lost the game doesn't mean we don't feel he's worthy to give the ball to. He just has to refine his skills, maybe add another pitch. I think he's going to be a good one."
Monasterios couldn't protect a one-run lead in the first inning. He allowed a three-run homer to Brian Schneider in the second inning, then singles to the first two batters he faced in the third inning and was relieved by Ramon Troncoso, whose second pitch was blasted for a three-run homer by Ryan Howard.
The Dodgers closed the gap from 6-1 to 6-4, scoring one run in a fifth-inning rally that included a pinch-single from rookie reliever Kenley Jansen, then a two-run homer from James Loney in the sixth.
But the Phils scored two more runs in the seventh when George Sherrill walked the bases loaded (one intentionally), and Carlos Ruiz whacked a two-run single off Jonathan Broxton. Meanwhile, the Phillies' bullpen retired the Dodgers in order over the final three innings.
"I tried to pitch my game and they were able to read all my pitches," said Monasterios.
Asked if he meant he was tipping his pitches to his former organization, he said: "I don't know, but all my breaking balls they were hitting to the outfield."
The Dodgers gave Monasterios something to work with in the first inning on a bases-loaded walk by Loney, but Casey Blake's double-play grounder ended the rally. The Dodgers got a second run in the fifth inning, with the key at-bat being a pinch-single by Jansen, who was converted from catcher to the mound a year ago because he couldn't hit.
"You never expect what Joe's going to do," said Jansen. "Got to be ready all the time. It was fun. He told me I'm going to go hit. It was fun to go in there and just try to do my best. It was amazing, first Major League hit. I never thought this was going to happen."
Scott Podsednik, who took Manny Ramirez's left-field job in part because of defense, went tumbling into the stands to make a spectacular catch of Chase Utley's foul ball in the seventh inning.
"Well, I knew it was going to be close to the wall, so I did everything I could to try and make as much ground up on it," said Podsednik, who emerged unscathed. "When you start getting close to the wall, it's easy for your attention to be divided between the ball and the wall. I tried to just focus all my attention, or as much of it as I could, on the ball. Fortunately, I was just able to make the play."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less