WASHINGTON - The offense is there somewhere.
It's just not here.
The Phillies suffered their second shutout of the season last night in a 4-0 loss to the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park.
"So many people here are capable of doing great things," leftfielder Pat Burrell said. "But we're too good of an offensive team to not be scoring runs like we are."
The Phillies had their opportunities but went 0 for 12 with runners in scoring position. They are 4 for 32 (.125) with runners in scoring position during their three-game losing streak, their first since Sept. 1-3 last season.
It has been a puzzle. The Phillies led the league in scoring each of the previous two seasons. They entered last night tied for fourth in the league in scoring but haven't hit the ball particularly consistently.
"We can't play .500 baseball and win anything," manager Charlie Manuel said. "We've got to get going. We've got to play better. . . .
"We definitely don't look tense at the plate. I don't know if we're waiting for something to happen or not. If we're tense, we can relax. If we need to bear down, hell, we're going to bear down. We've got to get it done. That's what this game is about - getting it done. There's a reason why at times when you don't get to play, and there's a reason why you don't get to pitch. Getting it done is what it's all about."
Nationals righthander Tim Redding threw 61/3 scoreless innings against the Phillies. He had thrown seven shutout innings April 2, when the Nationals posted a 1-0 win at Citizens Bank Park. But while the Phillies offered praise to Redding, they also know they should be better than they have been.
"We let him off early," Manuel said.
Before the game, Manuel talked about how teammates had to pick up Chase Utley, who is hitting .170 (8 for 47) his last 13 games. Phillies assistant general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. echoed those sentiments.
"We haven't swung the bats as well as we should be," Amaro said.
Much attention has been placed on the Phillies' rotation, which seems to be regarded as this team's weakest link. Amaro disagreed.
"I kind of have a different theory," he said. "This is a team built on offense. Frankly, our bullpen has been extraordinary so far. I don't know whether we can depend on the bullpen to continue to do what they've done, but they've been very effective. That with the way we're set up as a club, our offense should better. We should be scoring more runs and taking a lot more heat off our pitching, frankly. I don't think we're disappointed about our starting pitching. The guys could be pitching better, but if we swing the bats the way we can, it takes a lot of heat off our starters."
They're not swinging the bats well. Manuel is hoping that changes soon.
Read Todd Zolecki's Phillies blog, The Phillies Zone, every day at http://go.philly.