Shane Victorino looked as if he'd just exploded out of the starting blocks at the Penn Relays.

A seething Victorino raced in from center field and made a beeline toward home plate umpire Ed Rapuano. He shoved catcher Paul Bako out of the way but was quickly restrained by both Bako and Ryan Howard.

When they say there's a chance you'll see something you've never seen before at a baseball game, this was the kind of scene they're talking about - a player getting ejected while he's in center field.

"Never, ever in my life would I have thought that," Victorino said yesterday after the Phillies lost to Florida, 12-3, completing a three-game Marlins sweep at Citizens Bank Park. Victorino was tossed after he waved his arms and jumped up and down in protest of a pitch that Phils reliever Rodrigo Lopez threw to Wes Helms that was called a ball in the top of the seventh inning.

Afterward, Victorino mixed contrition with levity, holding himself accountable for his antics, praising Rapuano as an umpire, and expressing hope that he would not be suspended.

"I'm not trying to show anybody up," Victorino said after his first ejection in the big leagues. "Things got built up from the half-inning before that. It was one of those things. I let my emotions get the best of me. I love Ed, and when it happened, I came sprinting in and figured I'd get my money's worth. I had no intentions of touching him. He's one of those guys you can have fun with on the field. My first ejection from a game."

Victorino's antics illustrated the frustration that grips the Phillies, who have lost eight of their last 11 games and allowed the second-place Marlins to pull within four games of them during a weekend when they could have pushed them farther back in their rearview mirror.

"It was a tough weekend," Victorino said. "I don't know if we took for granted that the Marlins were playing bad. We kind of went out there with that approach. I'm not saying we didn't want to go out there and win. We weren't ourselves this weekend. I don't think we played up to our potential. We're still four games up, still in first place, and that's all we care about. We have to go out there and be the team we are and have fun and enjoy ourselves."

It was clear that Charlie Manuel didn't enjoy a moment of the day's proceedings. The manager was embarrassed by his team's sloppy and listless showing, and he apparently let the Phils know it as he addressed them for about 20 minutes.

"Whatever I said [to the players] is my business," Manuel said. "I was upset by how we played. I felt like we lost our composure and did some things we usually don't do and we didn't play like we usually play. We can do much better. That wasn't our team on the field today. We are better than that."

Even though Jamie Moyer allowed 11 hits in five innings, the Phillies were down by only 3-1 when the Marlins came to bat in the seventh. The Phils' half of the sixth had ended when Ryan Howard went down looking at a 3-2 fastball with two on. Howard was not happy with the call.

Helms led off the seventh for Florida, and after Rapuano called a ball on an 0-2 pitch, Victorino went into his jumping-and-waving act. Shortstop Jimmy Rollins did the same but was not as animated. Rapuano removed his mask, pointed to center field and gave Victorino the thumb.

Rapuano was persistently booed by fans as frustrated as the Phillies.

"The third pitch was called a ball, and he was out there waving his arms like this," said Rapuano, imitating Victorino. "So I stepped out, took my mask off, looked out there and gestured. Again, he went [waving his arms] and I said that's it. You can't do that from center field. I gave him the chance to not do it again."

Lopez got Helms to fly to center before the rest of the inning became a disaster for the Phillies. Jayson Werth, who replaced Victorino in center, allowed a two-out single by Chris Coghlan to roll past him. Three runs scored, and it was 6-1. The Marlins added three more runs before the inning ended.

"Today's game got to me a little bit, to be honest with you," Manuel said. "How we played, the things that happened in the game, how we went about it. It was not about how we played [Saturday] or because we lost three games in a row."

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