SAN DIEGO - Maybe this West Coast trip was a wake-up call for the Phillies.
They left Philadelphia last Sunday with a two-game lead over the New York Mets in the National League East. The Phillies entered last night's series finale against the San Diego Padres 21/2 games behind the Mets, needing a victory to avoid their first 1-6 road trip since May 2002.
They have 38 games to play.
"There is time, but you don't want to get too far behind," manager Charlie Manuel said. "At this time of the year, if you get five or six games behind, it's not like you can't do it, but you've really got to play good and the team ahead of you has got to fold or go through a bad streak."
The Phillies overcame a seven-game deficit with 17 games to play last season to beat the Mets and win the division. The odds against a repeat performance - should the Phillies' recent slide continue - are tremendous.
So anytime the Phillies' offense wants to start hitting, Manuel will welcome it.
"I'm puzzled by it," he said. "I'm open for suggestions. I'll listen to what anybody's got to say. Fans. Cab drivers. President Bush. Anybody.
"It's very important that you stay upbeat and you stay cool and you stay relaxed. We're definitely trying. If anything, maybe we're trying too hard. The only reason I say that is because we take fastballs, and we swing at balls out of the strike zone. . . . If we don't win, it's our fault, because we are definitely capable of winning our division. We definitely can control our destiny."
Manuel said third baseman
who has been on the 15-day disabled list since July 25 with lower-back inflammation, is scheduled to continue his rehabilitation assignment in the minor leagues through tomorrow. Feliz could be activated before Wednesday's game against the Washington Nationals at Citizens Bank Park. He is hitting .256 with 12 home runs and 46 RBIs in 340 at-bats.
Greg Dobbs has hit .281 with three homers and 10 RBIs in 89 at-bats as a third baseman. Eric Bruntlett has hit .130 with one RBI in 46 at-bats while at third.
In the seventh inning of Saturday's 8-3 loss to San Diego,
grounded into his first double play as a Phillie. Replays showed Werth was safe on the play; first-base umpire
missed the call.
It was the first time Werth grounded into a double play since Sept. 9, 2005, against the Padres. He was playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers at the time.
followed arguably the worst start of his career Monday in Los Angeles with another poor start Saturday. He allowed six hits, six runs, and five walks in 32/3 innings.
Kendrick is 0-2 with a 16.71 ERA (13 earned runs in seven innings) in his last two starts; he is 2-4 with a 6.90 ERA (23 earned runs in 30 innings) in his last six starts.
"He didn't throw in the strike zone," pitching coach Rich Dubee said. "He pitched himself right into some 2-0, 3-1 counts. That's not good. He's a contact guy. He doesn't throw in the strike zone, he's not going to be out there long."
"I'm trying to attack the strike zone," Kendrick said. "It's just that something is wrong with my mechanics. It's something to work on in the bullpen next time. . . . It's frustrating. This is the first time I've really had to deal with this, you know?"