NEW YORK - Chase Utley talked Wednesday night about how turbulent times can build character.
Well, if scoreless innings were bricks, the Phillies would be on their way to building a skyscraper as tall as the Empire State Building.
As it is, Charlie Manuel's team responded to the manager's team meeting Thursday night by producing another string of goose eggs, allowing the New York Mets to complete a three-game sweep at Citi Field with a 3-0 victory.
The Phillies, who have lost five straight and slipped to 26-20 overall, discovered that there is one thing worse than going through an entire game without scoring a run. It's much more disturbing when you have to sit through a lengthy rain delay beforehand.
After a 1 hour, 55-minute delay, the Phillies' mounting frustration stretched through nine more scoreless innings, forcing another examination of the team's record books. For the first time since 1983, the Phillies were shut out in three straight games. For the first time since 1974, they have been blanked in four of their last five games.
During their five-game losing streak, they have scored just three runs and hit .185 as a team. In that same stretch, they have hit .147 (5 for 34) with runners in scoring position. The Phillies have also lost seven of their last nine and scored just 15 runs in that stretch.
Mike Pelfrey became the fifth straight starter to take the mound without surrendering a run to the Phillies. Pelfrey improved to 7-1 by throwing seven scoreless innings despite issuing five walks. The Phillies managed just three hits off the Mets' starter.
The Phillies finished the night with four hits and Shane Victorino had three of them.
They also wasted a strong outing by lefthander Cole Hamels, who allowed just two earned runs in 61/3 innings but saw his record slip to 5-3.
New York scored in the first when the white-hot Jose Reyes reached base on an infield single and scored on a one-out double by Jason Bay. Hamels rebounded with five straight scoreless innings before surrendering a two-run double to Reyes that gave New York a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the seventh.
Reyes' big hit was preceded by a Placido Polanco fielding error. It was a particularly frustrating night for Polanco, who had a chance to end the Phillies' scoring drought in the third with runners on first and third and one out.
Instead, Polanco grounded into an inning-ending double play and it proved to be contagious.
An inning later, Jayson Werth followed a one-out walk to Ryan Howard by hitting into an inning-ending double play. The following inning, Wilson Valdez followed a one-out walk to Carlos Ruiz by hitting into an inning-ending double play.
The Phillies had two on with one out in the sixth and managed to turn that into more nothing when Utley flied out and Howard grounded out. A one-out hit by Raul Ibanez proved fruitless in the seventh when he was thrown out trying to steal second base.
"We're going to score runs if we stay at it," Manuel said before the game. "It's tough when nobody is hitting. It's tough to watch and hard to understand. That's baseball. You've got to grind it out. The last three or four years, we've talked about how we've been resilient and how we've come back. It's just a matter of time before we get it. You have to weather the storm and keep going."
The Phillies waited out a storm for nearly two hours before Thursday night's game against the Mets. Then they went through another turbulent evening that led to another string of zeroes and a fifth straight defeat.
"Times like this can build the character of a team," Utley said. "When things aren't going your way and balls aren't bouncing in your favor, it can be tough. When you have a group of guys that will stick with each other and battle through, you'll be OK."