ATLANTA - As the umpires walked off the field in the pouring rain, Charlie Manuel stood there, drenched. He had a few words for the four men.

They walked right past Manuel and into their locker room for an hour-and-four-minute rain delay. The Phillies' manager grumbled with no one around to listen.

Manuel lost his starting pitcher, Cole Hamels, because of the delay. And with his shuttered offense, the last thing Manuel needed was to empty the bullpen.

For the eighth time in 10 games, the Phillies lost - a 7-3 rout at the hands of the first-place Atlanta Braves.

The Phils are 11/2 games behind Atlanta, tying a season-high deficit.

What else can go wrong for the Phillies these days?

Tuesday was much of the same story, with a few odd twists. Weather problems aside, the primary reason for losing was the same: lack of scoring.

The Phillies have scored 12 runs in 10 games. They have scored five or fewer runs in 14 consecutive games, tying the team's longest streak since 2000. And they haven't scored five runs in 10 straight.

But Tuesday, the Phils found an unusual way to fall behind.

As the players warmed up before the game, thunder sounded in the distance. Rain was obviously on its way. Until the lineup cards are exchanged at home plate, starting the game is at the home team's discretion. The Braves decided to let the game begin on time.

Heavy rain came shortly thereafter. It cost the Phillies a Hamels start.

Pitching in driving rain, Hamels faced six batters. He allowed a three-run home run to Troy Glaus. Two batters later, with a 2-2 count to Yuniel Escobar, crew chief Jeff Kellogg called for the tarp.

Hamels was visibly upset. He shook his head and walked off the field, never to return.

The lefthander had thrown just 24 pitches, but the Phillies apparently decided the hour-plus delay was too long to risk bringing Hamels back.

The Braves kept their starter, Tim Hudson, in the game. He pitched six innings and allowed two runs on five hits.

Those runs came off a Ryan Howard home run in the sixth, snapping a 68-inning homerless streak for the Phillies, their longest since 1999. It was Howard's first home run and extra-base hit since May 21.

That hardly mattered by then. With Hamels unable to finish an inning, the Phillies needed to use seven pitchers. Chad Durbin relieved Hamels and threw 51 pitches, his longest outing in nearly a year.

He allowed two runs in 21/3 innings but could have escaped if it wasn't for Juan Castro's third-inning error - the 14th Phillies miscue in 14 games. Castro was handcuffed by a ground ball that could have been an inning-ending double play. Instead, a run scored. The next batter, Atlanta leftfielder Omar Infante, singled home another.

Castro was removed as part of a double switch an inning later.

Before the game, Manuel was asked if he spent the previous night away from baseball to clear his mind, perhaps watching the Flyers play.

"No, I didn't," Manuel said. "I was thinking about the Phillies. I've got all I can handle with the Phils."

Does he ever.