BALTIMORE - Jerome Williams tumbled over in a heap, facedown, just outside the batter's box. An awkward leg split while covering home plate left the Phillies' struggling righthander in agony, ending a miserable 30-pitch outing that gave up six Baltimore Orioles runs.
But that was just the beginning of the Phillies' most embarrassing performance of a dismal season. Baseball's worst team hit rock bottom Tuesday night in a 19-3 defeat at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, in 3 hours, 11 minutes redefining the meaning of the oft-used sports term "rebuilding."
The blowout clinched the Phillies' first winless eight-game road trip since 1883, the franchise's inaugural season. They had not allowed this many runs in a game since September 1999, when the Cincinnati Reds scored 22. The Orioles in one game outscored the Phillies for their entire eight-game road trip. By five runs.
"I almost don't know what to say," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said.
Baltimore's hitters pummeled Phillies pitching for eight home runs, a single-game Orioles record. Dustin McGowan served up five of them, including Chris Davis' fourth-inning bomb that landed on Eutaw Street.
The Phillies' ineptitude reached such a level that journeyman rightfielder Jeff Francoeur was needed to pitch the seventh and eighth innings.
"Bad road trip," Francoeur said. "Worst road trip I've ever been on as far as just the way we lost games."
Tuesday's debacle left Williams on crutches. He limped off the field with a strained left hamstring after recording just two outs in the first inning. His second wild pitch of an at-bat against No. 9 hitter David Lough had bounced toward the Phillies' dugout, giving both J.J. Hardy and Ryan Flaherty time to score. As Williams tried to scoop Carlos Ruiz's throw to the plate, his legs split, and he crumpled over in pain.
Williams said he felt a pop during the play. He is likely headed to the disabled list.
"We'll find out more details [Wednesday]," he said, "but I think that's what we're looking at."
A wretched, albeit brief, performance ballooned his already woeful ERA to 6.43. Six more earned runs against McGowan inflated his ERA to 6.94.
Justin De Fratus surrendered Baltimore's seventh home run, to Chris Parmelee, and his next pitch veered way inside to Hardy. Home-plate umpire Lance Barksdale promptly ejected the reliever, who didn't put up an argument, heading straight for the dugout.
"I know what it looked like," De Fratus said. "Once he pointed at me, you just walk off the mound. It kind of is what it is at that point."
Asked if he threw at Hardy intentionally, De Fratus said, "It doesn't matter. I got tossed. That's really all I can say about that."
The lone 1-2-3 inning from a Phillies pitcher came from a 31-year-old outfielder. Francoeur, who resorted to pitching last season while toiling in triple A with the San Diego Padres, struck out the first batter he faced, Nolan Reimold, on three pitches. By the end of his major-league pitching debut, he had thrown 48 pitches, allowed a home run, broken a bat, hit a batter, and walked three.
Francoeur was visibly tired in his second inning of work. After giving up a leadoff homer to Flaherty, he loaded the bases with one out. Pitching coach Bob McClure phoned the bullpen to get another reliever warming but, mystifyingly, the bullpen phone was off the hook.
To garner the attention of bullpen coach Rod Nichols, McClure stepped to the top of the visitors' dugout and waved a white towel toward the bullpen in left-center field.
The image was more than fitting for this Phillies season.
BY THE NUMBERS
Homers allowed by Dustin McGowan
Innings without a Phillies HR, before Maikel Franco's shot in the sixth
Jeff Francoeur's ERA