Phillies fall to A's for sixth straight loss
Moyer sailing along until hitting trouble in seventh inning
OAKLAND -- Chase Utley and Pat Burrell stared at video screens, replaying at-bats from another listless effort. This one resulted in a 5-2 Phillies loss to Oakland that extended a losing streak to six games.Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard and Shane Victorino also took brief turns reviewing their respective contributions. No one walked away content with what he saw. "Our offense seems to be the thing we thrive on," Victorino said. "It's almost like we don't know what to do to get out [of it]. Everything is going wrong for us."
After a 20-run beating of St. Louis on June 13 -- a game which Jamie Moyer described as a "dam breaking" -- the Phillies have lost eight of nine games.During the six-game losing streak, they have scored 11 runs and hit .170 as a team. That's .170, with seven extra-base hits, 48 strikeouts and 77 left on base. "That almost doesn't even sound right, but teams go through these kinds of things," Victorino said. It is right, and Charlie Manuel, a manager who takes pride in producing potent lineups, has taken issue with his player's approaches and results. The Phillies, who entered Tuesday's tilt with the second-most runs scored in the National League, did little against Joe Blanton and his 4.81 ERA. The right-hander was tagged for eight runs in three innings in his previous start, against Arizona, but consistently danced out of danger against the Phillies. Philadelphia had two on and one out in the first, and the bases loaded with one out in the seventh, and came away empty both times. Only Burrell solved Blanton, clubbing a home run to center field in the fourth. Moyer nearly made that stand up, as he sailed through the first six innings, limiting the A's to one hit and catching six of his season-high nine strikeout victims looking. Providing the perfect remedy for offensive struggles, the 45-year-old Moyer figured he'd simply shut down the A's. A couple of dunk singles -- Ryan Sweeney's in front of Burrell and Bobby Crosby's in front of a diving Victorino -- put Moyer in a seventh-inning jam. Manuel emerged from the dugout to discuss the situation and decided it was his veteran's game to lose. Three pitches later, Emil Brown connected off the top of the 362-foot fence in left-center, and the A's took a 3-1 lead. "A bad pitch," Moyer said. "Middle of the plate. I thought I could pitch us out of it. I didn't do that." On the bloop that led up to the homer, Moyer said, "They're inside the white lines. You have to play them out. A bloop, a blast, a bunt. It doesn't matter." And the six-game losing streak? "Three in a row, four in a row. Six in a row?" he said. "The day off felt like a loss, too. You go through phases. A couple of weeks ago, the runs we were scoring, it was like a dam broke. Now, we're not. It's part of the game. Deal with it." Though the Phillies plated a run in the eighth off Alan Embree, they would not be as fortunate against Huston Street in the ninth. In Manuel's mind, the game was over before that, and it starts with the offense. "We need to get good balls to hit, but at the same time, we need to stay aggressive with our swings," Manuel said. "We've got guys not hitting, swinging bad, swinging at balls in the dirt, chasing balls over their heads, it looks like they've never seen a baseball. They can go back from square one and start thinking about what they've always done. That's how we're going to come out of it. We can get our speed on the bases, steal some bases and get in scoring position, but we can't knock nobody in." Carlos Ruiz was the case in point on Tuesday, bouncing into an inning-ending double play in the seventh, keeping the A's within range. It was enough. "It seems like everything is against us," Victorino said. "There's a part in the game where we feel like it's not going to happen if we don't explode for 10 runs. The other team sticks around, sticks around, then they get their inning. To me, good teams persevere and find a way out of it. We're going to find a way out of it. But we're still in first place. As bad as we're doing, everybody is still [behind] us. Hopefully, we can turn our thing around."
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.