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Monday, July 16, 2007

Phillies lose their 10,000th game ! ! !

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Through the last-place finishes, September collapses and every agonizing failure over the past 125 years, no team has lost quite like the Philadelphia Phillies.

Futility has followed them since the day they were born, and Sunday night was no different for the losingest team sports history. Loss No. 10,000 came when Albert Pujols hit two of the St. Louis Cardinals' six homers in a 10-2 rout.

Not surprisingly, this defeat resembled the thousands that came before. Bad starting pitching, brutal relief and hardly any hitting. And, of course, lots of booing.

By the ninth inning, with the outcome inevitable, the boos turned to cheers. Fans in the sellout crowd of 44,872 thumbed their noses at the dubious mark, standing and applauding. One held up a sign that read: "10,000 N Proud" as NL MVP Ryan Howard struck out to end the game.

"I don't know too much about 10,000 losses," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "I try and concentrate on the wins."

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From Connie Mack Stadium to the Vet and Citizens Bank Park, the Phillies have had few moments to celebrate. The franchise, born in 1883 as the Philadelphia Quakers and briefly called the Blue Jays in the mid-1940s, fell to 8,810-10,000.

Next on the losing list: the Braves, with 9,681 defeats. It took them stints in three cities (Boston, Milwaukee and Atlanta) to reach that total. Not even those lovable losers, the Chicago Cubs, come close at 9,425.

And for those counting, it was the 58th time the Phillies have lost by that exact 10-2 score, the Elias Sports Bureau said.

The Phillies avoided the milestone for three games, but the Cardinals -- the team that caught them 43 years ago for the NL pennant in one of the biggest collapses in baseball history -- beat Philadelphia one more time.

Earlier, a banner hung from the upper deck that read "10,000 is not in the Cards." Turns out, it was on this night.

So the franchise that won only one World Series championship (1980) in 125 years, has 14 seasons of 100-plus losses, and once lost 23 straight games, now has the ugliest number of them all in a city way too familiar with losing.

It hasn't been all bad for the Phillies. They've had their share of highlights and Hall of Famers: Jim Bunning, Robin Roberts, Richie Ashburn.

The scoreboard at Citizens Bank Park is shown after Philadelphia Phillies' Ryan Howard struck out for the final out against the St. Louis Cardinals during a baseball game in Philadelphia, Sunday, July 15, 2007. The Cardinals won, 10-2, and the Phillies lost their 10,000th game.
AP - Jul 15, 10:58 pm EDT
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They haven't lost 100 games since 1961, and they won the NL East three straight years from 1976-78 behind Mike Schmidt, Steve Carlton and Larry Bowa. Philadelphia lost the World Series in 1983 and 1993, though it hasn't returned to the playoffs since Joe Carter's homer won the 1993 World Series for Toronto.

"I think they need to forget about it and move forward," said Greg Luzinski, the starting left fielder for the 1980 team.

After combining for 23 runs and 37 hits in the first two games of the series, the Phillies were held in check by Adam Wainwright (8-7). He threw seven shutout innings against the highest-scoring team in the National League.

Philadelphia, with a 46-45 record this year, fell five games behind the NL East-leading New York Mets. But these Phillies have long grown tired of answering questions about 10,000.

"It doesn't matter one way or the other to all the guys in here," All-Star center fielder Aaron Rowand said. "The guys in here weren't responsible for 10,000 losses, so what does it really matter to us?"

Most fans seemed rather detached from the number. After all, what's one more loss from a team responsible for countless more than 10,000 broken hearts?

Take Andrew Haines, 25, of Pitman, N.J., who still can't shake the image of Phillies closer Mitch Williams allowing the World Series-ending homer to Carter.

"It's hard to be a Phillies fan," said Haines, wearing a Phillies cap. "They're the butt of a lot of baseball jokes, and having 10,000 losses isn't helping any."

The Phillies blew their chance to push back No. 10,000 until their seven-game West Coast road trip when even the die-hards would have trouble staying awake to watch it.

Pujols hit a two-run shot in the fifth off Adam Eaton (8-6) that was followed by Chris Duncan's 17th of the year for a 6-0 lead. Pujols, Juan Encarnacion and Adam Kennedy each homered in the seventh. Ryan Ludwick added a solo shot in the eighth to make it 10-0.

Philadelphia Phillies Michael Bourne gets a hug from Aaron Rowan (33) after his solo home run against the St. Louis Cardinal in the ninth inning ended a shutout during a baseball game in Philadelphia on Sunday, July 15, 2007. The Cardinals won, 10-2, and the Phillies lost their 10,000th game.
AP - Jul 15, 10:53 pm EDT
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Philadelphia broke up the shutout in the ninth when Michael Bourn hit his first major league homer and Chase Utley added an RBI double.

"When you have 125 years of existence as an organization, I think you should be the first team to get to a great milestone like that," Eaton said.

Every true fan knows of the infamous 1964 collapse when the Phillies held a 6 1/2 -game lead with 12 to play, only to blow the NL title by losing 10 straight. The Cardinals won the pennant by one game.

St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said he had the ball from the final out and would auction if off, with the money going toward his animal rescue foundation.

"That ball is history," he said. "It's nothing to be ashamed about."

Never known as lovable losers, cursed, or even affectionately as bums, the Phillies had a big head start in earning this pitiable total: They played their first game on May 1, 1883, against the Providence Grays. Of course, the Quakers lost 4-3 to Old Hoss Radbourn and started 0-8. They went on to lose 81 of 98 games in their inaugural season.

"I've been involved in over 2,900 of them, but I've also seen a lot of wins during that time," longtime Phillies broadcaster Harry Kalas said.

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