CHICAGO - So what's next?
The Phillies blew eighth-inning leads against the New York Mets on Wednesday and the Chicago Cubs on Thursday, which resulted in painful losses. Then yesterday at Wrigley Field, they lost a lead in the sixth inning and fell victim to a blown call in the seventh that helped account for a 3-2 loss to the Cubs that put them two games behind the New York Mets in the National League East.
Losses like the last three are tough to forget.
And it's not even September.
"As far as missed opportunities, I guess you could say that," first baseman Ryan Howard said.
The Phillies, who have lost three consecutive games, made Cubs righthander Rich Harden, who was 4-1 with a 1.47 ERA in eight starts with the Cubs, throw 100 pitches to force an exit after five innings. They had scored two runs off him before that to take a 2-1 lead into the sixth inning.
But then things got crazy.
Phillies righthander Joe Blanton walked the bases loaded with two outs in the sixth. Manager Charlie Manuel called for lefthander Scott Eyre from the bullpen. Eyre walked Kosuke Fukudome to tie the game, 2-2.
"It's pretty much unacceptable," Blanton said. "That's kind of how the inning started. It was me not coming at them."
Blanton walked five batters in 52/3 innings. It was just the third time in his career and first time since May 26, 2006, that Blanton walked five batters in a game.
"I could live with myself better if I gave up five hits in an inning than walking the bases loaded to get them into a situation where they can do some damage," he said.
The Phillies had runners on first and third with two outs in the seventh when Howard hit a hard grounder to first baseman Derrek Lee. The ball got away from Lee, who eventually recovered and threw to first.
Howard beat the throw, but first base umpire Chris Guccione called him out. Had Guccione made the correct call, the Phillies would have taken a 3-2 lead. Instead, Clay Condrey started the seventh and allowed a solo homer to Alfonso Soriano to left field to win it.
"It changed the momentum," Howard said.
The Phillies have been short on that lately, and they are finding it's in short supply at Wrigley.