With Friday's 6-2 series-opening loss to the struggling Rockies, the Phillies lost their fifth straight game to fall to 37-51. They are 15 games behind the Nationals in the National League East. Roy Halladay's impending return and the club's second-half success in Charlie Manuel's tenure as manager are causes for optimism, but time is running out.
Philadelphia will yet again look to get something started when it plays Colorado (34-52) on Saturday at Coors Field. Vance Worley (4-5, 3.54) opposes Jeremy Guthrie (3-8, 6.05) with first-pitch slated for 8:10 p.m. ET.
"I've seen us be 10 or 11 down in the loss column and we've gotten back in the race," Manuel said before Friday's game. "We've just got to start outplaying people."
The Rockies hope Guthrie can propel them to their third straight win. In each of his two starts since rejoining the rotation, the right-hander has allowed just two runs on six hits over six innings.
Guthrie's last start was on Sunday, the last game before the All-Star break. Guthrie didn't get the win despite a good outing, but the Rockies still beat the Nationals, 4-3.
"We can work our way back," outfielder Dexter Fowler said after that game. "We know we can. This is just the start."
Phillies: Halladay could return Tuesday
Halladay, who has been on the disabled list with a strained right lat muscle since May 28, is on track to return to the mound Tuesday at Dodger Stadium, Manuel said.
In a rehab start with Class A Clearwater on Thursday, the two-time Cy Young Award winner allowed one unearned run on three hits with four strikeouts. He threw 61 pitches.
"That'll help our rotation," the skipper said of Halladay (4-5, 3.98 ERA). "And if we can get [Chase] Utley and [Ryan] Howard to start hitting like they can, that's going to help our whole lineup, plus that's going to create more energy, life and want-to. We'll win more games, there's no reason why things won't work out for us. And we'll give it everything we've got."
Left-handed reliever Raul Valdes was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Friday with a right hip strain. Southpaw Joe Savery was recalled from Triple-A Lehigh Valley in a corresponding move. Savery is 0-2 with a 5.87 ERA in 17 appearances with Philadelphia this season.
Rockies: Helton's sore hip sends him to DL
First baseman Todd Helton was placed on the 15-day disabled list (retroactive to Monday) with right hip soreness. Helton, who is hitting .235 with seven homers and 34 RBIs, will undergo further testing, manager Jim Tracy said.
"Because he was experiencing some soreness, we did shut him down for several days prior to trying it on Sunday; it wasn't very good," Tracy said. "Beyond Sunday, there were going to be four more days where he could just rest. But he came in today and he's still sore. Now there needs to be some intervening involved to where we do anything and everything that we have to do to try to get to the very bottom of it."
Josh Rutledge was promoted to fill Helton's spot on the active roster. Rutledge made his Major League debut as the Rockies' starting shortstop in Friday's win and went 2-for-2 with a double, two RBIs and a walk.
In 87 games with Double-A Tulsa this season, the 23-year-old hit .306 with 27 doubles, three triples, 13 home runs and 35 RBIs in 87 games for the Drillers.
"I could only hope, but I honestly didn't know it would come this soon," Rutledge said before his debut. "I couldn't be more excited."
Phillies outfielder Laynce Nix went 1-for-2 with a two-run home run and two walks in the second game of his rehab assignment on Friday with Class A Clearwater. Nix, who has been out with a strained left calf since May 10, served as the designated hitter. He went 1-for-3 with a walk on Thursday.
Colorado catcher Ramon Hernandez went 1-for-5 with an RBI in Friday's win against the Phillies, Hernandez's first game since May 23. The veteran had been sidelined with a left hand strain.
During Manuel's tenure as manager (since 2005), the Phillies have the second-best record in the Majors in games after the All-Star break (313-197). Only the Yankees have a superior record in that span.
The Rockies purchased the contract of right-hander Mike Ekstrom from Triple-A Colorado Springs on Friday. To make room for Ekstrom on the active roster, the club also transferred Jorge De La Rosa, who is recovering from elbow surgery, to the 60-day disabled list. Players on the 60-day DL do not count against the 40-man roster. Right-hander Tyler Chatwood was also optioned to Double-A Tulsa.
In Friday night's loss, Phillies left-hander Cliff Lee failed to register a win for the 14th time in 15 starts this season.