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Manuel baffled by latest Phillies flop

Charlie Manuel sounded tired but insisted he wasn't.

Cole Hamels took a no-hitter into the seventh inning, then gave up two home runs. (Steven M. Falk/Staff Photographer)
Cole Hamels took a no-hitter into the seventh inning, then gave up two home runs. (Steven M. Falk/Staff Photographer)Read more

Charlie Manuel sounded tired but insisted he wasn't.

After watching his offense waste a dazzling effort by Cole Hamels in a 3-1 Phillies defeat to San Diego on Monday, Manuel was left at a loss for words, a familiar position lately.

"I don't know what to say, really, if you want to know the truth," Manuel said. "I want to us to come out, have fun, hit balls and score runs like we know we can. It's not happening."

This loss was especially painful considering the way Hamels pitched.

The lefthander took a no-hitter into the seventh inning of a scoreless game at Citizens Bank Park. The Padres' first two hits of the game were back-to-back home runs in the seventh. And that was enough.

Hamels said he knew he had the no-hitter going but was conscious of two other numbers on the scoreboard.

"I was more aware of us being in a 0-0 game," he said.

It was another fine pitching performance wasted by the Phils, who managed two hits in the final six innings. At one point, San Diego pitching retired 18 straight Phillies. An offense that had shown signs of breaking out of a three-week-long slump earlier in this series has gone back into hiding.

In the ninth, the Phillies finally scored on Ryan Howard's RBI double, but Jayson Werth - representing the tying run - struck out to end the game.

It's not as if it would have taken an offensive explosion to win Monday with Hamels on the mound.

To start the seventh, Padres second baseman David Eckstein hit a slow roller to Howard at first. He charged the ball and flipped it to a sprinting Hamels, who barely beat Eckstein to the bag.

Hamels walked slowly to the mound and his catcher, Carlos Ruiz, came out to give him a chance to catch his breath.

Three pitches later, the no-hitter was gone - and the Phillies trailed.

With a 1-1 count, Adrian Gonzalez hit an 89-m.p.h. fastball into the first row in left field. It was the first home run Hamels had allowed in 19 innings.

Hamels reached an 0-2 count to the next batter, Scott Hairston, but left a hanging curveball in the zone that was smashed into the left-field stands for a 2-0 Padres lead.

Up to that point, Hamels had been dominant. His fastball touched 95 m.p.h. on the radar gun and he commanded it as well as he has all season. Because Hamels had thrown only 21 pitches in his last start, a rain-shortened appearance of two-thirds of an inning, Manuel let him throw 121 pitches over eight innings.

In the eighth, Hamels struck out two (both on changeups) and induced a fly ball.

His ERA over his last seven starts is 3.02 and he lowered his season ERA to 3.98. (In 2009, his ERA never dipped below 4.07.)

"He's been throwing good," Manuel said. "Tonight he was very good."

While Hamels' progress is extremely encouraging, none of that mattered Monday without any run support.

Before scoring in the ninth, the Phillies had gone scoreless for 16 straight innings after scoring 12 runs in the previous 10 innings. Monday was much of the same story that had dogged the Phillies for three weeks.

Manuel said he's never seen an entire lineup - especially one as talented as the Phillies' - go cold at the same time. Still, it's little solace for what has happened.

"This team's not going to quit," leftfielder Raul Ibanez said. "There's too much talent in the room. There's a lot of season left. But obviously it doesn't take the sting out of what's going on right now."