The Phillies tried to remind everybody after today's season opener at Citizens Bank Park that they still have 161 games to play.

There's no reason to panic.

It's early.

But everybody has seen this before, haven't they? And they must wonder how many more times they might see it again. A potent Phillies offense came from behind to tie a game only to watch the bullpen blow its efforts in an 11-6 loss to the Washington Nationals at Citizens Bank Park.

"When you give up 11 runs, of course our pitchers want to pitch better," manager Charlie Manuel said. "It's too early to really start grading them out or be worried or upset or whatever. Today we had a bad day. We had those days last year, and we've bounced back."

The Phillies had a 4.73 ERA last year, when they won their first National League East championship since 1993. That ERA made the Phillies the fourth-worst pitching staff in the league.

The Phillies' front office tried to upgrade the pitching in the off-season but entered 2008 with those concerns still intact.

There's reason for that. Of the 52 playoff teams in the National League since 1994, just two have made the playoffs with one of the fourth-worst ERAs in the league (the 1995 Rockies and last year's Phillies). Just seven NL playoff teams finished in the bottom half of the league in ERA.

So can they really defy the odds and win like that again?

They'd rather not try to find out.

"You never want to go through that," said Tom Gordon, who allowed four hits, five runs and one walk in the ninth inning to take the loss. "You want everybody going on all cylinders. You definitely don't want to have to go through one aspect of the game playing well and the other not playing well."

Brett Myers allowed four runs in five innings. He didn't have much other than his fastball.

"I don't know where my slider went," he said. "I checked both back pockets. It wasn't there."

Ryan Madson replaced Myers in the sixth and allowed a two-run homer to Lastings Milledge to make it 6-2.

"Games are won and lost in the sixth or seventh," Madson said. "I think the biggest turning point in the game was my inning. If I could have held them, it's a totally different game."

The loss certainly had a familiar feel to it. The Phillies just hope it's not the norm this season.

Manuel said they did it like this last year, but that doesn't mean they want to try it again.