Phils finish dismal homestand with sixth straight loss


It almost seemed as if the Los Angeles Dodgers felt badly for the Phillies on Thursday. It almost seemed as if they didnt want to get too greedy after beating the Phils in the first three games of their visit to Citizens Bank Park.Already without his best playerall-world talent Matt KempDodgers manager Don Mattingly decided to give his second-best player, Andre Ethier, a break from the starting lineup. Sure, the Phillies had a lefty on the mound and it made sense to rest the left-handed hitting Ethier, but, all in all, having the NLs leading RBI man on the bench was a nice break for the Phils.No Kemp. No Ethier.No Phillies win.A dreadful homestand ended with the Phillies suffering an 8-3 loss to the Dodgers (see Salisbury's Instant Replay). The Phils have lost a season-high six straight. They finished the homestand 1-6 and were booed at times on Thursday. Frankly, they deserved every one of them as they kicked the ball around on defense, flopped again with runners in scoring position (1 for 12) and saw Cole Hamels squander a 3-0 lead for the second start in a row.The Phillies have sold out 235 games in a row. That means a lot of people have seen a lot of losses lately. Since clinching their fifth straight NL East title on Sept. 17 last season, the Phils are 13-27 in their last 40 games in their home ballpark. That includes playoffs, and that stinks.Charlie Manuel thinks he knows the reason for it all.The Phillies have lost their edge.They are an edgeless, 174 million, last-place place team, and if they fall a whole lot farther back in the standingstheyre six games out of firstits not going to matter when Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Roy Halladay return from the disabled list or how productive they are when they return.I thought we lost that edge quite a while ago, if you want to know the truth, said Manuel, responding to a question. We dont scare nobody. Ill tell you something, we used to have a swagger. We used to be kind of cocky in a real good way. And teams used to definitely fear us. I definitely dont see that fear no more. I dont see that. Im sorry. No, I dont see where we scare anybody. Nobody backs down from us. Matter of fact, they come right at us. They take it right to us.The Dodgers certainly did. And before that, the Marlins did.What happens over the next nine games in American League ballparks is anyones guess. But if this freefall continues, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. might start looking to unload pieces.Amaro would certainly listen to offers for Hamels, but its probably more likely that he would hang on to the potential free agent and continue to try to sign him. Hamels has had a terrific season, but lately it has taken a downward turn. He has allowed 12 earned runs in 20 23 innings over his last three starts for an ERA of 5.22. The Phillies thought he was the perfect guy to stop a losing streak Thursday (he was 5-1 after a loss entering the game), but he could not get it done.Most troubling was the way Hamels lost the game. He seemed to revert to some of his old shortcomings. He seemed to get frustrated with his defenseTy Wigginton made consecutive errors to help set up a run in the fourthand later with himself. Hamels allowed three runs on four hits in the sixth after walking leadoff man Elian Herrera. Hamels shouted at himself after throwing a changeup in the dirt to walk Herrera. Earlier in the at-bat, he thought he had Herrera struck out, but did not get the call. It all added up to the lefty experiencing some noticeable frustration and that was his undoing.I hate walking guys, Hamels said. You have to move on and you cant let it affect the next pitch and the next pitch. I try not to let that happen but unfortunately I guess it got the best of me again.Hamels might have been able to get away with some frustration had his teammates not been shut down after scoring three runs in the third inning.The subject of the teams misplaced edge came up with Shane Victorino after the game and he essentially acknowledged that it has indeed happened.When we lose a lead we have to battle to the end, he said. Thats what I think we lack sometimes.Were a better team than this. We all need a gut check, me included.
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