It's one of those The More Things Change, The More They Stay the Same deals. What do the Phillies do these days when they're looking to bust out of a slump? Beat up on the Nationals. What did the Phillies do in 1991 when they were looking to bust out of a slump? Beat up on the Nationals--then better known to non-time-traveling audiences as the Montreal Expos. Over a 13-game stretch in 1991, the Phils faced the Padres twice, the Cubs three times, and Les Expos a total of eight times, winning all 13 games. A 40-58 team when the streak started, the Phils moved from 21 1/2 to 12 1/2 games back by its end--not exactly making them contenders, but at least keeping them from being a total afterthought. On August 13th, 1991, though, whatever good vibes and good times the streak had started were finally put to an end.
Remarkably, as recent as 18 years ago, the Pittsburgh Pirates were still a force to be reckoned with, and they were absolutely rolling as the Phils came to town that day in '91. Getting a quality start from reigning Cy Young champ (and current proud Phillies papa) Doug Drabek, the Pirates took the game 4-3 on RBIs from Andy Van Slyke and Jose Lind, padding their first place, 66-45 record. Unfortunately, the Pirates proved too formidable in general for the Phils in those days, as the loss marked, ironically enough, their thirteenth loss in a row to the Buccos.
Thus ended, the streak still tied the thirteen-gamer pulled off by the classic 101-win '77 team for the longest stretch of winning in modern franchise history (though they went for sixteen in a row a couple times in the 19th century, supposedly). Meanwhile, the Phils finished off the season a mediocre 78-84, while the Pirates won the division, eventually losing a seven-game NLCS to the pennant-winning Braves.