Phillies face winless pitcher on road to redemption

PHILADELPHIA --- Chase Utley bristled at the repeated questions, Jimmy Rollins shooed away anyone who tried to ask.


Can't blame Ryan Howard and the Philadelphia Phillies for wanting to forget their playoff flop against the Colorado Rockies last year.

"What happened is in the past," center fielder Shane Victorino said Tuesday. "We're over it. It's behind us. We have unfinished business."

The NL East champions expect to go farther this year. The wild-card Milwaukee Brewers stand in their way.

Game 1 is today at Citizens Bank Park, with ace Cole Hamels (14-10) on the mound for the Phillies.

Yovani Gallardo (0-0) pitches for the Brewers. Those zeros next to his name are no misprint.

The 22-year-old righty will become the second pitcher in major league history to start a postseason game without recording a win that year, according to Stats, LLC.

"I don't know a thing about him, but I'll watch him on video," Utley said. "He's a good pitcher."

Virgil Trucks started Game 2 of the 1945 World Series for the Detroit Tigers after getting a no-decision in his only outing of the regular season. Recently discharged from the Navy, he threw a complete game to beat the Chicago Cubs.

Gallardo returned from a torn knee ligament and pitched four innings last Thursday against Pittsburgh in his first start since May 1. He had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee just before spring training, then hurt his right knee while trying to hurdle a base- runner against the Cubs.

Gallardo had a 1.88 ERA in four starts after going 9-5 with a 3.67 ERA in 2007.

"He's a special young man," Brewers manager Dale Sveum said. "He's got the heart of a lion. He's way ahead of his age as far as mentally, his makeup, the poise he has when he's on the mound. We feel he's the right guy for Game 1."

Gallardo has a tough task against a dynamic lineup that features Rollins, Utley, Pat Burrell and Ryan Howard, who led the majors in homers (48) and RBI (146).

Burrell, however, left Tuesday's workout because of discomfort in his lower back. He left after taking a swing in batting practice, and will be checked today.

Philadelphia's hitters have something to prove after a dismal performance against the Rockies. A potent offense that led the league in runs scored for the second year in a row was anemic in its postseason debut.

The Phillies hit just .172 and only scored eight runs, striking out 26 times in three games. Only Carlos Ruiz (3-for-9) hit above .250 in the series. Rollins, Utley and Burrell each went 2-for-11 with 11 strikeouts combined. Howard was 3-for-12 with seven Ks.

"Last year is over with," Utley said. "There's no point in looking back. We have to focus on finding ways to win now, whether it's with our hitting or pitching. There's no extra added pressure on anybody."


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