The Philadelphia Phillies believe they can score runs with sluggers Ryan Howard and Chase Utley sidelined by injuries.
Philadelphia squandered a sterling performance by starter Cliff Lee in a 2-1 loss in 10 innings to Pittsburgh on Saturday night, a game the Phillies had numerous chances to win but failed to produce the hit necessary to break open the game.
"That's not good hitting," Hunter Pence said. "We're kind of sporadic; we're getting runners in scoring position and then not getting the balls to fall right there."
Philadelphia put two runners on in both the ninth and 10th innings but failed to execute.
The biggest misstep came after Pence worked Pittsburgh closer Joel Hanrahan for a leadoff walk in the ninth. Lanyce Nix tried three times to put down a sacrifice to move Nix to second, popping his final attempt high into the air for a harmless out.
"I just didn't do it; there's no excuses," Nix said. "I just got to get that down."
Hanrahan escaped and Juan Cruz (1-0) followed suit in the 10th after Placido Polanco and Jimmy Rollins hit back-to-back singles with two outs. It opened the door for the Pirates.
Rod Barajas, brought in by the Pirates to provide some power, doubled off Philadelphia reliever Joe Blanton (0-1) leading off the 10th and pinch-runner Mike McKenry came home three batters later when Presley hit a chopper to short then beat Rollins' throw to first by a hair.
"I know this sounds kind of odd to say we really needed to win what was only the second game of the season but we did need a win," Barajas said. "We had a tough opener against a great pitcher and ... we really fought hard and it would have been very difficult to lose this game. It was a really good win for us."
"I was really running as hard as I could," Presley said. "I knew when my foot hit the bag that I was safe. I know it might not have looked like it because I started jogging right after I hit the bag but I know I beat the throw."
Polanco and Shane Victorino had two hits apiece for Philadelphia but the Phillies have managed just two runs in the season's first 19 innings.
Still, it was almost enough for the five-time defending NL East champions to stay perfect.
Lee nearly matched Halladay's dominance in the opener. Halladay limited Pittsburgh to just two hits — both in the first inning — in a 1-0 victory.
Pittsburgh managed to hit the ball out of the infield just once during the lefthander's first two trips through the lineup before finally the Pirates finally broke through for their first run of the season in the sixth.
Pinch-hitter Yamaico Navarro walked with one out, Jose Tabata followed with a single up the middle and Navarro scored two batters later when a pitch skipped past Ruiz allowing Navarro to end a 14-inning scoreless drought and tie the game.
"It happened pretty fast," Lee said. "I felt like we got a perfect bounce there off the backstop and we had time to get a play on him, it was just kind of a tough throw."
It was the only mistake during an otherwise flawless night by Lee, who gave up one run on two hits in six innings, walking two and striking out four.
Pittsburgh starter Jeff Karstens, like Erik Bedard on opening day, did his best to keep pace. Coming off a year in which he revived his career — going 9-9 with a 3.38 ERA — Karstens kept the Phillies off balance with his typical mix of offspeed pitches.
Karstens didn't allow a runner past second in his final five innings, giving up one run on five hits with one walk and two strikes.
NOTES: OF Laynce Nix played first base for Philadelphia, just his seventh career start at the position in his 10-year career. . Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said Jim Thome might start at first base Sunday in the finale of the three-game series. It would be Thome's first time at 1B since 2007 when he was serving primarily as the DH for the Chicago White Sox . Pittsburgh RHP Charlie Morton, on the disabled list while recovering from hip surgery, is schedule to make a rehab start Monday for Triple-A Indianapolis. If that goes well, he will be activated April 14 at San Francisco. . Pirates RHP A.J. Burnett (eye) made his first rehab start for high Class A Bradenton on Friday night and gave up one run and two hits in 4 2-3 innings against St. Lucie in a Florida State League game. He walked one and struck out five. . RHP Vance Worley is scheduled to start Sunday for the Phillies against RHP James McDonald.