CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) - Kyle Kendrick knows what he has to do to limit the home runs: throw better fastballs.
Kendrick took a step backward in his bid to land the fifth spot in the Phillies' rotation, giving up five runs in four innings of a Philadelphia split squad's 6-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday.
Kendrick was perfect in the first two innings with three stikeouts but he was tagged for five hits, including three homers, after that.
``Two of them were just fastballs down the middle that didn't sink at all. That's the difference,' Kendrick said. ``But I felt good, I was working on a lot of off-speed pitches, they laid off a lot of good changeups. I was working on some stuff. I'll try to stay away from stuff down the middle.'
Kendrick got pushed out of the Phillies' rotation when they signed Cliff Lee to a free agent contract.
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel believes Kendrick can be useful out of the bullpen, despite the fact that 83 of Kendrick's 93 big league games have been starts.
``The first time around today he was good, he got them out,' Manuel said. ``I look at him as a long guy, as a guy who can pitch three, four innings. But in the NL, I see the long guy as two (innings). Kyle is capable of pitching two-to-three innings.'
Tampa Bay left-hander David Price, runner-up for last year's AL Cy Young Award, held the Phillies to one run on two hits in five innings. He struck out six and walked two.
``See if we can't work Price in our rotation - think he'd fit in ours?' Manuel said, jokingly, about his four aces of Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels.
Price said: ``Outside of that second inning, I was able to get ahead of hitters and whenever I was able to do that, I was able to put them away. That's the best my slider's been, probably, in two years. It's pretty exciting.'
After Kendrick retired the game's first eight hitters, Reid Brignac became the first Rays player to reach base when he knocked a two-out single to left in the third inning. Ben Zobrist followed by launching the first pitch he saw off Kendrick out to right field for his first home run of the spring.
Damon made it back-to-back home runs when he followed with his first as a Ray. In the fourth, Dan Johnson kept the power play going with a one-out, two-run home run to right. NOTES: Phillies second baseman Chase Utley will continue with non-operative rehab in hopes of getting his ailing right knee better. General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Utley had taken ``baby steps' in his progression in the last few days. Utley hasn't played in the first 17 exhibition games. Amaro and the Phillies agreed to a four-year contract extension that will keep him in Philadelphia through the 2015 season. Since replacing retired Pat Gillick as the Phillies GM after the 2008 season, Amaro has helped the team win two NL East division titles and one NL pennant. Ryan Madson allowed one hit but struck out six of the other seven batters he faced. Tampa right fielder Matt Joyce was 2 for 3 with a double and a triple. Tampa center fielder B.J. Upton was 1 for 3 with a double a stolen base, his second of the spring.
The Associated Press News Service
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