The Phillies had two hits and had struck out 14 times when Ryan Howard stepped into the batter's box with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning and the team trailing the Boston Red Sox by a run last night at lively Citizens Bank Park.
Those grim numbers suggested there was little hope for them.
But the pitcher most responsible for the Phillies' futility - lefthander Jon Lester - could do no more damage because he was watching from the dugout, looking for a save from reliever Ramon Ramirez.
In a blink, Lester, who had 11 of the strikeouts in seven innings, was craning his neck to see where Howard's towering home run would land, sending the tightly played game into extra innings.
But Howard's 19th homer only served as a prelude to a frustrating loss for the Phils.
Playing small ball, the Red Sox scored three runs in the 13th inning on four singles and a walk against Kyle Kendrick to grab a 5-2 win.
Kendrick was called up from triple-A Lehigh Valley earlier in the day after the club placed reliever Scott Eyre on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left calf muscle. He threw three ground-ball outs in the 12th before he lost command of his pitches.
"My pitches were up in the zone, and they got some hits," Kendrick said. "That's it. The first inning, I made some good pitches. The next inning, my pitches were up and out over the plate."
The Phillies, who struck out 20 times and had only five hits, thought they might have won in the bottom of the 11th when pinch-hitter Greg Dobbs hit a towering fly that went over the foul pole and landed in the second level in right field with two on.
The ball was ruled foul, and it remained that way after manager Charlie Manuel discussed it with first-base umpire Jim Joyce. There was no video review even though Manuel said he asked for one.
"He didn't really give me a definite answer" on why there was no review, Manuel said after a game that lasted 4 hours, 6 minutes. "He just said we're not going to review it. He said they didn't want to review it. I asked him why, that I wanted it reviewed. He just said it's my call.
"He said he saw it. He said he stayed on it, and he said, 'Charlie, it was foul.' He said, 'I know it was foul.' I said, 'It's not where it lands. It's where it goes out.' I said I stayed on it, too."
The loss came in the first game of a nine-game homestand against American League East teams and followed a triumphant road trip on which the Phils were 7-3.
The Phils are a major-league-best 23-9 on the road but only 12-15 at home. If this continues, the Phillies may soon find themselves locked out of their own ballpark next time they return from a road trip. It may be no way to treat a World Series champion, but it might be for their own good.
As tough as the loss was for the Phillies, they'll take more of what they got from starter Joe Blanton, who nearly matched Lester by allowing two runs in seven innings. The runs scored on homers by Kevin Youkilis and J.D. Drew.
"I felt like Blanton pitched pretty good," Manuel said. "Trouble was, their guy was pretty good, too."
Lester went into the game as one of the league's hottest pitchers. He was following his best performance of the season.
Last Saturday, the lefthander took a perfect game into the seventh inning against Texas before Michael Young hit a one-out double. Lester went on to complete a two-hitter. He had allowed one run in three of his four previous starts and had struck out 23 in his previous two games.
This was only the second time the Phils went against Lester, who beat them with seven scoreless innings last season.
A Phillies breakthrough against him seemed imminent in the second inning when Raul Ibanez singled and Shane Victorino doubled down the left-field line with no outs. Both balls were hit on a line. But the Phils' inning died after Ibanez scored on a ground out by Pedro Feliz, as Lester induced two more grounders for outs.