The streak of Phillies pitchers hurling complete games ended abruptly Friday night as No. 3 ace Roy Oswalt was lifted before throwing a pitch in the top of the seventh inning with what the team called a lower back sprain but Oswalt later said was a middle back injury.
At the time the Phillies were beating the Marlins 3-2. They wouldn’t hold on as ex-Phillies Greg Dobbs came up with a 2-run pinch hit single off Danys Baez (1-1) in the top of the seventh to put the Fish up for good.
Florida (8-5) relievers Edward Mujica (2-1), Ryan Webb, Randy Choate, Chad Hensley and Leo Nunez combined to pitch four scoreless innings allowing just one hit and one walk to the Phillies struggling offense.
Thanks to a Ryan Howard sac fly and two Raul Ibanez RBI singles the Phillies had built a 3-1 lead after five. But Oswalt allowed back-to-back doubles in the sixth to allow the Fish within one.
That was when things began to fall apart. Oswalt appeared to be in discomfort after running hard down the first base line on an attempted sacrifice in the bottom of the sixth. The 33-year-old bent down and reached for his legs after making it safely to first on a fielder’s choice.
He ran the bases but after loosening up on the mound the next inning called it a night appearing to favor his back.
"It's a muscle spasm," Oswalt said after the game.
The cold weather (53 degrees) could have possibly played a role in the injury.
Oswalt has a history of back problems including 2009 when he left a game with a left-sided lower back injury.
"It's not to the point where it's unbearable," Oswalt said.
"This is totally different," he said. "The others weren't good."
But for the most part Oswalt has been durable in his career starting 30-plus games eight of 10 seasons.
The righty will take a few days off before preparing for his next start, he said.
The Phillies (9-4) have now lost Game 1 of four-straight series. Luckily in each case they won the next two games.
Cole Hamels will try to continue the trend when he faces Anibal Sanchez Saturday night (weather permitting).