It's not the reason why Placido Polanco tried going from first to third with one out in the 10th inning. But considering how the Phillies' offense has failed time and time again to come up with the big hit, Polanco knew if he could make it to third, it could allow the Phillies to tie Sunday's game without the luxury of a hit.

Problem is, Tony Gwynn Jr. made a perfect play to throw out Polanco in a 6-5 victory for San Diego.

After forcing Padres starter Kevin Correia from the game in the second inning, the Phillies failed to score in the final eight innings of the defeat.

Their best chance may have come in the 10th had Polanco made it to third. With one out, Chase Utley hit a soft blooper to center. Gwynn charged the ball immediately and in one swift motion threw a strike to Chase Headley. He applied the tag on Polanco just in time.

"I think if you lose being aggressive, it's fine," Polanco said. "If I don't go to third and stay there, it looks bad. I think it looks worse."

The ball was hit in front of Polanco, so he was going to third on his own. With one out, he said, it was the only choice he had. Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said Polanco used bad judgment.

Both were quick to point out how good Gwynn's play was, too.

"He was trying to make something happen," Manuel said. "If he makes it, it's all good. But he didn't make it."

Regardless of Polanco's decision, the Phillies had too many squandered chances earlier in the game.

Correia was done before he could finish two innings. The Phillies scored five runs and held a 5-3 lead. But starter Joe Blanton continued his slow start and allowed five Padres runs in five innings. Blanton has a 6.07 ERA through seven starts.

The bullpen held San Diego at bay until Danys Baez surrendered the go-ahead single to pinch-hitter Oscar Salazar in the 10th.

In the end, the Phillies' offense in the first two innings was a tease.

"We couldn't get a big hit after that," Manuel said.

By the time Jayson Werth struck out with two men on in the 10th, the Phils had stranded 15 runners. They were 3 for 15 with runners in scoring position.

In the ninth, Manuel went for broke, using three of his reserves. Catcher Brian Schneider drew a two-out walk. He advanced to third on a pinch-hit single by Ben Francisco. But the next pinch-hitter, Carlos Ruiz, grounded out to the pitcher to end the inning.

"Baby steps," first baseman Ryan Howard said.

True. A few days ago, mounting 11 hits and five runs seemed like an impossible task.

"Better than nothing," Polanco said.

But no one will say the Phillies have snapped out of this funk - especially when the middle of the order continues to struggle. Utley was 1 for 5, dropping his batting average to .265. Howard was 2 for 6 with three RBIs but struck out three times. Werth was 0 for 5. Raul Ibanez, now hitting .229, was 0 for 4.

"But we're still getting some good hits," Schneider said. "We worked the counts real well. We got Correia out of there early. We're not just swinging early and giving up.

"Hopefully it's the start of something good again."

Contact staff writer Matt Gelb at 215-854-2928 or mgelb@phillynews.com.
Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/magelb.