NOTES: The Phillies activated right-hander Jon Lieber (groin) from the 15-day disabled list Thursday and sent right-hander Scott Mathieson back to Double-A Reading. Lieber will start Friday's series opener against the Pirates.
Lieber returns to the Phillies rotation 39 days after leaving a game against Washington with a strained groin. In his third and latest rehab start, the right-hander allowed six runs in 6 1/3 innings for Class A Clearwater, a result of leaving too many pitches over the plate. He didn't pick a bad opponent for his comeback. Lieber is 7-1 with a 2.78 ERA in 12 career starts against the Pirates.
The Pirates counter with right-hander Ian Snell 7-6 with a 5.00 ERA. After winning five straight starts, Snell has dropped three straight decisions. On Sunday against the Tigers, The 24-year-old right-hander struggled mightily early. But Snell finished his day having allowed only four runs over five innings. In two career starts against the Phillies, Snell is 1-1 with a 6.00 ERA.
The Phillies activation of Lieber allows Mathieson to make a start Wednesday during the All-Star break and stay sharp in case Brett Myers doesn't return for the first turn through the rotation following the break. Myers was optioned to the minors as he deals with the personal aftermath of his June 23 arrest on suspicion of domestic assault and battery in Boston.
The Phillies won't need a fifth starter until July 18, so either Myers will be back by then or Mathieson will be back to make that start in San Diego against a Padres team that he handcuffed Wednesday.
Phillies assistant general manager Mike Arbuckle was proud of the way Mathieson pitched after being called up from Double-A to help the Phillies' depleted, struggling rotation. In four games (three starts), Mathieson was 0-2 with a 5.48 ERA, but he performed much better than the numbers showed. The Phillies liked the way the 22-year-old attacked hitters, as he walked only five in 21 1/3 innings. Wednesday night he didn't walk a batter and gave up three runs in eight innings against the Padres (two of those runs coming on an unlikely homer by San Diego pitcher Jake Peavy).
Arbuckle conceded that Mathieson's off-speed pitches still need work, but when it was suggested that his body and fastball were reminiscent of a young Curt Schilling, Arbuckle said that he thought Mathieson's fastball has more action than Schilling's as a prospect.
"But Schilling had that great command with his fastball," Arbuckle said. "Scott needs to work on his command and his other pitches, but he has the makings of a guy who can give you 200-plus innings a year. This (brief stint in the majors) makes me optimistic that he's going to continue to develop."
REPLAY: The Phillies lost their eighth consecutive series, as the Padres charged back from a three-run deficit to beat the Phils 5-3 Thursday.
Right-hander Ryan Madson still can't put together consecutive quality starts. After putting up 8 2/3 innings of shutout ball against the Orioles in his last outing, Madson allowed five runs in five innings against the Padres.
Chase Utley doubled and scored in each of the first two innings and drove in the other run with his second-inning hit, but the Phils were shut down by Padres starter Chan Ho Park in his final five innings.
--LHP Randy Wolf threw a 40-pitch bullpen session Thursday, his first since a hairline fracture in his pitching hand set back his rehabilitation from "Tommy John" elbow surgery by two weeks. Wolf has another bullpen session coming this weekend, then it will be off to either Double-A Reading or Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes-Barre after the All-Star break to continue building his stamina and arm strength. Wolf will need at least three more starts before the Phillies consider bringing him to the majors, so don't expect to see him until August.
--2B Chase Utley extended his hitting streak to 12 games with two doubles Thursday. He scored two runs to lift his season total to 69, second-most in the NL.
--RHP Kyle Drabek, the team's first-round pick in the June draft, signed a contract with the Phillies, but don't expect to see the him pitch many innings over the final two months of the Gulf Coast League season.
After formally signing the 18-year-old with a $1.55 million bonus, assistant GM Mike Arbuckle said that the heavy workload Drabek carried for his high school team, The Woodlands, as it won the Texas 5A state championship this spring means Drabek will have a fairly light workload for the remainder of 2006.
--RHP Brett Myers is still at his Jacksonville, Fla., home, dealing with family matters following his arrest on suspicion of domestic assault and battery in Boston two weeks ago. Myers eventually will head to Clearwater to begin workouts and prepare for a return to the Phillies sometime after the All-Star break.
--LHP Rheal Cormier lowered his ERA to 1.17 with 1 1/3 innings of shutout relief Thursday. Cormier hasn't allowed a home run this season after allowing nine in 2005.
BY THE NUMBERS: 20 -- Number of pitchers who took the mound for the Phillies through their first 79 games. The Phillies used just 19 pitchers all of last season.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I took all of the runs out of them for him." -- Adam Bernero, who had to borrow Ryan Madson's glove and spikes Friday when his luggage was lost on his flight to Toronto. Bernero allowed eight runs in two innings.
LHP Randy Wolf, who is coming off "Tommy John" surgery, began the season on the disabled list. He began a minor league rehab assignment on June 8, and he was struck on the hand by a line drive on June 13 and suffered a hairline fracture. He struggled in a rehab start for Double-A Reading on June 21.
RHP Julio Santana went on the disabled list May 13 with elbow tendinitis. He was scheduled to have "Tommy John" ligament-replacement surgery, a procedure that will knock him out for the season.
RHP Jon Lieber, who had been out since May 29 with a pulled groin muscle, was activated from the disabled list on July 6. He is scheduled to start July 7.
C Mike Lieberthal went on the disabled list retroactive to June 6 with a sore hip. He was scheduled to start a rehab assignment on June 27, but he was scratched due to hip discomfort. He hopes to play some minor league games the weekend of July 8-9 and return to the Phillies after the All-Star break.
C Sal Fasano went on the disabled list retroactive to July 3 with a sore left knee.