Manuel unsure if Phils can make second-half run

slideshow-070213-phillies-manuel-uspresswire.jpg

Manuel unsure if Phils can make second-half run

PITTSBURGH – Have some doubts that the Phillies can make a second-half run?

So does their manager.

“The question to me is whether we are capable of running off a winning streak,” Charlie Manuel said Tuesday afternoon.

“Are we capable? Can we put together 12 out of 16 [wins]? It’s not impossible, but at the same time I would question that.”

Manuel spoke before the Phillies opened a three-game series at PNC Park against the Pirates, whose 51-31 record is the best in the majors.

The Phillies are teetering on the brink, 9½ games behind the Braves in the NL East and eight games out in the wild-card race. Since their only day over .500 this year -- they were 31-30 on June 6 -- the Phillies are 9-14. 

Can the Phillies get back into the race? They’ve averaged 49 wins in the second half in eight seasons under Manuel. But it might take a lot more than 49 to reach the postseason.

“We’re going to have to play like hell,” Manuel said. “We have to play right, fundamentally well. We have to hit, we have to pitch and catch the ball. But I’ve been saying that two years now, and I’m still saying the same thing.”

Asked what the Phillies should go after at the trade deadline, Manuel was blunt.

“I think we need anybody who can help us improve. If there is any way we can improve, whether it’s a pitcher or a hitter or whatever, any players who can help us improve.”

Meanwhile, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said there’s plenty of people to blame for the Phillies’ recent struggles.

Including himself.

“These guys get paid to play,” he said Tuesday afternoon in the Phillies’ dugout. “They need to do their jobs. I think it’s all of us taking part of it. It’s all of us that are a part of it. It’s a team effort. We all have to be better, including me. ...

“Guys have to start playing better. Only way we can win is if they start playing better. Hitting better, pitching better, running the bases better. Playing better defense.”

The Reds are in the No. 2 wild-card spot, on pace for 92 wins. For the Phillies to catch them, they would have to go 52-26. That’s .667 baseball.

“We can’t let ourselves get too far behind,” he said. “It’s just too much of a haul. It’s the point where we’ve got to start making some hay.”

Under Manuel, the Phillies have played .605 baseball in the second half, second best in the majors since 2005.

“[We’ve been] very, very good in the second half,” Amaro said. “They’ve had an uncanny ability to be able to do that, so we’ll see.

“We haven’t played well enough, that I can tell you. Not to this point, there’s no question about that. I think they’re a better club than they’ve shown so far, but maybe they’re not. ...

“What’s been disappointing for us this year is the fact that we’ve generally had most of our guys on the field for most of the time. Not the whole time. We lost Chase [Utley], we’ve lost Doc [Roy Halladay].

“I felt like we’d be playing a little bit better baseball overall and we haven’t.”

The trade deadline is July 31, and Amaro said these next few weeks will determine what direction the Phillies take.

“Every single day, it’s an assessment of what’s best for the club, what might be best for the club,” he said.

“Right now, we’re putting ourselves in a position to be prepared for anything. Whether we have to go right, left, up or down, we have to be prepared for everything.”

Best of MLB: Mets beat Max Scherzer, first-place Nationals

Best of MLB: Mets beat Max Scherzer, first-place Nationals

WASHINGTON -- With Bryce Harper coming to the plate with the bases loaded and the Mets clinging to a two-run, ninth-inning lead, New York manager Terry Collins went to the mound and replaced closer Jeurys Familia with left-hander Josh Edgin.

"If we'd have won seven in a row, I probably would have left Jeurys out there, because that's what he's here to do," Collins said.

But the Mets had lost six in a row and 10 of 11, falling 7 games behind NL East-leading Washington.

Edgin got Harper to hit a comebacker the reliever turned in a game-ending double play as the Mets held on for a 7-5 victory Friday night (see full recap).

Yankees rally from 8 down to beat Orioles
NEW YORK -- Matt Holliday ended a thrilling duel of home run derby in the Bronx with one final thump.

Holliday hit the eighth homer of the game, a three-run shot in the 10th inning as the New York Yankees completed a stunning rally from an eight-run deficit, outslugging the Baltimore Orioles 14-11 Friday night.

"It's an amazing feeling. We're down 9-1, and then we were down 11-4," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "They never quit. We have the ability to hit the ball out of the ballpark and that's what we did."

Starlin Castro slipped to a knee when he tied it with a two-run drive that capped a three-run burst in the ninth off Brad Brach. Then in the 10th, Holliday hit the Yankees' fifth homer of the evening with one out off Jayson Aquino (1-1) and was mobbed at the plate (see full recap).

Red Sox get to Arrieta early, beat Cubs
BOSTON -- Against Chicago Cubs ace Jake Arrieta, the Red Sox didn't have time for a slow start Friday night -- not exactly a strength for them this season.

Andrew Benintendi helped Boston solve that issue, and the club just had to hang on from there.

Benintendi hit a solo homer off Arrieta to spark a five-run first inning and Boston beat Chicago 5-4.

The Red Sox had just seven first-inning runs this season entering Friday (see full recap).

Soto's 2-run single leads White Sox past Tigers
DETROIT -- Mike Pelfrey put his emotions aside and helped his new team, the Chicago White Sox, beat his old team, the Detroit Tigers.

Pelfrey, who was released by the Tigers near the end of spring training, started Friday's game at Detroit and left after 4 2/3 innings with the game tied. Geovany Soto then had a two-run single in the eighth, helping the White Sox beat the Tigers 7-3 at Comerica Park.

"There's no bitterness," Pelfrey said of facing Detroit. "Those guys were good to me. Obviously, spring training didn't end the way I wanted, but that's on me. I don't think I lived up to my end of the bargain," (see full recap).

Instant Replay: Dodgers 5, Phillies 3

Instant Replay: Dodgers 5, Phillies 3

BOX SCORE

LOS ANGELES — The Phillies' six-game winning streak ended in a 5-3 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday night.

The Dodgers scored four of their runs with two outs.

The Phillies, who play two more times against the Dodgers before heading to Chicago for four against the World Series champion Cubs, are 11-10.

The Dodgers are 12-12.

Starting pitching report
Jerad Eickhoff was not sharp. He gave up nine hits and five runs over 5 2/3 innings. He walked three, struck out three and threw two wild pitches, one of which resulted in a two-out run.

Eickhoff (0-2) had problems with two outs. He allowed seven hits and two walks with two outs.

Dodgers right-hander Kenta Maeda (2-2) was very good. He held the Phils to five hits and two runs over seven innings. He walked one and struck out eight.

Bullpen report
Luis Garcia gave up a two-run double in the sixth. The runs were charged to Eickhoff.

Mark Leiter Jr. pitched a scoreless seventh inning in his big-league debut. His father pitched for the Phillies in 1997 and 1998. The Leiters are the second father-son duo in club history, joining the Amaros.

The Phils scored a run in the eighth against reliever Josh Fields. Luis Avilan came on and put out the fire. Kenley Jansen struck out the side in the ninth and got the save.

At the plate
Freddy Galvis extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a two-run double in the third inning, accounting for the Phillies' first two runs.

Maikel Franco drove in his 21st run with a sacrifice fly in the eighth.

Manager Pete Mackanin moved Galvis to the No. 2 hole. Looking for RBIs, he used Aaron Altherr in the No. 6 spot.

Tommy Joseph went hitless with three strikeouts in four at-bats to drop to .190.

Justin Turner had three hits for the Dodgers, including a two-run double. Kike Hernandez had an RBI double for the Dodgers.

In the field
Galvis made his first error of the season, snapping a 25-game errorless streak that dated to last season.

Rightfielder Michael Saunders cut down a run at the plate to end the fifth inning and keep the Phils within a run.

Up next
Zach Eflin (0-0, 2.25) pitches against Brandon McCarthy (3-0, 2.25) on Saturday night.