NEW YORK - Shane Victorino rounded third and carried the end of a mind-boggling Phillies scoreless streak with him. But with the heart of the order coming up and strong-armed Jeff Francoeur fielding the ball cleanly in right field, third-base coach Sam Perlozzo held up his hands.
It was too close for Perlozzo to chance it. He'd leave it to the bats. Two hitters later, the Phillies walked off the field, dejected and scoreless again.
The Phillies were shut out for the second straight game Wednesday night in a 5-0 loss to the New York Mets. And the lack of energy from the offense, which had manager Charlie Manuel plenty perturbed after Tuesday's loss, didn't improve one bit.
The Phils have gone scoreless in 37 of their last 38 innings.
It marked the first time the Phillies were shut out in consecutive games since Aug. 7-8, 2008. And it marked the first time the Phillies have been shut out by the same team in two straight games since Arizona did it on Sept. 11-12, 1999.
Incredibly, opposing starters have thrown 28 straight scoreless innings against the Phillies during the four-game losing streak. And it's not as if the Phils have faced aces: Daisuke Matsuzaka, Tim Wakefield, R.A. Dickey and now Hisanori Takahashi have shut down the offense.
And if Wakefield hadn't told Red Sox manager Terry Francona he was too tired to pitch the ninth inning Sunday, the Phillies could be staring at an even worse streak.
Takahashi, a junk-balling lefty with a well-located fastball, struck out six in six innings. He didn't walk a batter. He mixed his 68-m.p.h. curveball with an 89-m.p.h. fastball and kept the Phillies off balance for much of the game.
In the sixth, the Phillies had two runners on for the first time all game. Chase Utley singled to right and Victorino was held at third by Perlozzo. Ryan Howard struck out on four pitches. Jayson Werth hit two long foul balls off a tiring Takahashi. But the 35-year-old Japanese lefthander induced a fly out to right on his 94th pitch of the sweltering night.
Any chance the Phillies had of winning was finished.
Starter Joe Blanton once again hit a wall on his third time though the order. In his four previous 2010 starts, Blanton had allowed 10 runs in the sixth and seventh innings combined. Through five innings, he had limited the Mets to three hits and two runs.
It fell apart in the sixth. David Wright led off with a double. Angel Pagan reached on a bunt single. Then Phillies killer Rod Barajas scorched one down the left-field line for a two-run double.
Blanton was done after 51/3 innings, his shortest outing of the season. He allowed five runs and was spotty with his control, walking four and striking out just two.
But without any offense, Blanton's performance mattered little. He allowed a run in the second inning, a sacrifice fly by Barajas. That's a deep hole these days.
Now Manuel, who a day ago said it was painful to sit around and watch his offense stumble, will be faced with even more questions about his hitters.