A positive pendulum swing is what the Phillies need more than anything right now, and for most of his career Roy Halladay was the man you'd want on the mound to gain some momentum.
Now, the righthander with two Cy Young Awards and the nickname Doc cannot even cure the last-place Phillies' ills.
Not that the latest loss, a lackluster 2-1 setback against the lowly San Diego Padres on Saturday night at Citizens Bank Park, was Halladay's fault. But it did send the soon-to-be-35-year-old righthander into some 21st-century uncharted territory.
For the first time since his 1999 rookie season with the Toronto Blue Jays, Halladay has gone to the mound for five consecutive starts without his team winning a game. The frustration from the Phillies' mounting losses was visible on Halladay's face and in his body language when Cameron Maybin scored the winning run on a sacrifice fly by pinch-hitter Jesus Guzman in the top of the seventh inning.
"I don't want it to sound the wrong way, but I'm never going to apologize for being emotional," Halladay said after the Phillies slipped to 15-19 overall and 3-5 in his eight starts. "Sometimes it hurts, and it should. If it doesn't, it's time to quit playing. Yeah, I was not thrilled."
The Phillies, of course, traded for Halladay and signed Cliff Lee in an effort to win a second World Series title, but right now they are struggling to get to .500. They have lost six times in eight games, and a big part of the reason is that they are winless in Halladay's last five outings and all four of Lee's starts.
"I'm sure when he goes out and gives up two runs, he gets upset, yes," manager Charlie Manuel said. "I kind of would like to feel for him and, yeah, I would get upset. As a matter of fact, I do get upset."
Halladay was a victim of the Phillies' inconsistent offense on this night. He allowed just two runs and struck out 10 batters in seven innings, but the Phillies scored just once off four San Diego pitchers. The Phillies left 12 runners on base and were 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position.
"I don't have to tell you we had a lot of chances to score," Manuel said. "We left quite a few men on base and we definitely left a lot in scoring position. We just couldn't get a hit."
Ty Wigginton had the most difficult night among Phillies hitters, going 0 for 4 overall and 0 for 3 with runners in scoring position, leaving a total of nine runners on base.
"He was just missing hitting some balls," Manuel said. "He had some good approaches. He had some chances and we just didn't get it done."
Hunter Pence also continued to struggle, going 0 for 3 and twice failing to come through in the late innings with the tying run in scoring position. His overall average slipped to .250.
"I feel like I'm a better hitter than I'm hitting," Pence said. "I have to keep the attitude of 'keep pushing.' Right now I don't seem to be getting anything I'm looking for."
After the Padres intentionally walked Shane Victorino with one out in the seventh to load the bases, Pence popped out to second base. The inning ended with Wigginton's grounding into a fielder's choice.
Victorino and Pence had an opportunity to get the tying run home in the ninth after Jimmy Rollins led off with a single against Dale Thayer and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and stole third with two out. But Thayer struck out both hitters, sending the Phillies to their sixth loss in eight games.
The Phils' only run came off Padres starter Edinson Volquez on back-to-back doubles by John Mayberry Jr. and Freddy Galvis in the second inning.
That gave the Phillies a 1-0 lead, but the inning ended with a weak pop-up by Rollins, who is hitting .153 (4 for 26) with runners in scoring position.
Halladay failed to protect the Phillies' lead in the top of the third as the Padres got even with doubles by Jason Bartlett and Will Venable.
The game remained tied until the seventh, when Cameron Maybin led off with a double, advanced to third on a single by John Baker, and scored on a one-out sacrifice fly by pinch-hitter Jesus Guzman. Pence caught Guzman's fly ball in foul territory and made a strong throw home, but Carlos Ruiz's tag on Maybin was high.
That left the Phillies in a 2-1 hole, and two runs was one too many for them to overcome.