MILWAUKEE -- If you are of the opinion that the Phillies are headed for another baseball-free October, this game supported your stance.
The Phillies were manhandled by Kyle Lohse and the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday afternoon. Lohse, who hadn’t won since April 22, stared down an early Phillies' threat en route to pitching eight innings of one-run ball in Milwaukee’s 9-1 win (see Instant Replay).
For the Phillies, the loss capped a four-day stay in Milwaukee that saw them finally get above .500 with their fifth straight win only to fall right back to two games under .500 with three straight losses.
“Slightly,” said Ryan Howard. “You never want to lose three of four.”
The Phillies couldn’t hold early leads on Friday or Saturday night. On Sunday afternoon, they were simply blown out. Their offense managed just five hits and four of them were singles. Three of those singles came in the first inning and the Phils weren’t able to convert any of them into a run. They didn’t get their next hit until third-string catcher Humberto Quintero popped a solo homer with two outs in the eighth inning.
That’s a long time between drinks, as the saying goes.
Manager Charlie Manuel said the weekend was disappointing.
“That’s kind of the way we play,” he said. “We won five, then all of a sudden we lose three. Today was rough.”
The first two innings summed up the game. The Phils had three singles against Lohse in the inning, but failed to score. Brewers rightfielder Norichika Aoki made the big play of the inning, gunning down Michael Young at the plate on a single by Howard.
In the bottom of the second, rookie right-hander Jonathan Pettibone opened the frame by making a fielding error. He also hit a batter and gave up a two-run triple to the No. 8 hitter, Scooter Gennett, as the Brewers scored four times.
That was the game.
From afar, it appeared as if the Phillies were completely deflated and rendered lifeless by their missed chance in the first inning.
“It wasn’t necessarily deflating because it’s so early in the game where you think you’re going to have opportunities to come back,” Howard said. “But you’ve really got to take advantage of it when you can because when [Lohse] gets settled in and starts making pitches he can be tough.”
Lohse struck out six and walked just one.
“I’ve got to give Lohse some credit,” Manuel said. “He knew how to pitch us and he changed speeds good. He located his fastball good. But I felt like at the same time we could’ve definitely hit better.”
We’ve heard that a lot this season.
Lohse had five 1-2-3 innings. He walked a batter in the third, then quickly rolled a double play.
Pettibone hurt himself with his error in the second.
“I didn’t do the little things,” he said. “I didn’t field my position, letting the leadoff guy on. I was ahead of the catcher, then hit him with a pitch to load the bases with nobody out. That’s a disaster waiting to happen.”
The Phils were down just 4-0 when Manuel let Pettibone lead off in the top of the sixth. He struck out. In the bottom of the inning, Pettibone allowed a single and a two-run homer.
Why didn’t Manuel go for a hitter down four runs?
“We were still in the game,” Manuel said. “Pettibone was at 70-something pitches and still strong. It’s a good experience for him. I could have hit for him, but I wanted him on the mound.”
The Phils have completed a stretch of 10 straight games against last-place clubs Milwaukee and Miami. They went 5-5 -- good enough not to sink into oblivion, but not good enough to make any real headway.
“The sky is not falling,” Young said. “We had a little rough stretch here. We definitely didn’t play our best baseball, without a doubt. We have to make a quick adjustment on this road trip.”
Young said the Phillies needed to fix their one-step-forward, two-steps-back pattern.
“If we're going to get where we want to be, and be right in the middle of this thing in the stretch drive, we're going to have to find a way to make adjustments during the game, not after the games,” he said. “That's what good teams do. A lot of the guys in this room have been there and done that. We have to make more in-game adjustments, not after the game, when the guys have a chance to talk about it.”
The Phillies have time to talk about it during Monday’s off day. On Tuesday, they open a three-game series in Minnesota with Cole Hamels on the mound.