The soft-spoken message inside the mostly quiet visiting clubhouse at New York's Citi Field last week came through loud and clear.

If it seemed like the sky was falling when the Phillies couldn't find their way home, the players, coaches, and manager were quite sure the giant asteroid speeding toward Earth was not going to destroy their season.

The common theme of the postgame quotes: We've been through this before (losing games). This too shall pass. This happens every season right around the time we start playing interleague games.

This core group of players has clearly learned how to fall and get up, and Manuel's "never-say-panic" approach has been helpful in that respect. That's not to say that Manuel isn't tinkering or concerned.

After being shut out by the Mets in all three games, and being nearly no-hit last Saturday at home against Boston, Manuel displayed some uneasiness Friday night by sitting rightfielder Jayson Werth for the first game of the three-game series with Florida.

It's natural to wonder if this struggle might be different and more costly for the Phillies. Again, the theme in the clubhouse has been that this isn't any different from previous slides the Phillies have overcome, though the issue hasn't always been scoring runs. Any runs.

"I think we just need to believe in ourselves," pitcher Cole Hamels said. "We're a very good team with very good players. When we come out of this, it's going to be very tough for opposing teams."

The one thing that is really different for the Phillies right now is that they do not have shortstop Jimmy Rollins. It's true they went 18-12 without him earlier this season and they were 16-12 while their starting shortstop and leadoff hitter recovered from a sprained ankle in 2008.

The Phillies have also overcome injuries to Chase Utley and Shane Victorino during this run of three straight NL East titles. But they've never had to deal with the long-term loss of one of those players. The Phillies hope that won't be the case without Rollins this time, too. But the fact he has twice injured his right calf has to be a concern.

Without Rollins, the Phillies lose a lot of swagger, and there's no one in the clubhouse who can replace what he does.

"He helps our team, period," Manuel said. "He's one of our star players. He's our leadoff hitter and helps our team with his defense, his offense, and also with who he is. He makes our lineup different. It becomes completely different. And his personality plays a big role on our team, too. He's definitely energy. He laughs and he has fun playing the game."

The Phillies could use an energy drink like Jimmy Rollins right about now.

But these Phillies have earned the right to believe they will escape this swoon.

A year ago, on their way to 93 wins and a second straight World Series appearance, the Phillies had a June stretch where they lost six games in a row and 14 of 18. During that struggle, they scored two or fewer runs in eight games and three or fewer in 11 games.

The prolonged slump started just as the Phillies got into the teeth of their interleague schedule with a three-game home series against the Boston Red Sox. By the time it ended, the team's four-game lead in the National League East was gone and they were tied for first place with the New York Mets. They went from 12 games over .500 to two over.

They responded by winning 14 of their next 15 games and built a 61/2-game lead that was never threatened the remainder of the season.

Two seasons ago in the middle of June, the Phillies had a six-game losing streak and a stretch in which they lost 11 of 14. They scored two or fewer runs eight times and were shut out twice in that stretch. Their four-game lead in the National League East shrunk to one. That struggle also started right around the time the Phillies got into the teeth of their interleague schedule with a three-game home series against Boston.

We know, of course, how the 2008 season turned out.

Three seasons ago, the Phillies lost 10 of 13 to open the season, finding themselves in a 61/2-game hole by April 20.

Again, they managed to recover and win the division.

When Ryan Howard scored on Raul Ibanez's triple in the fourth inning Friday night, the 38-inning scoreless drought against starting pitching was over.

When Jose Contreras got Ronny Paulino to pop out in the ninth, the Phillies had a 3-2 win and the five-game losing streak was over.

And the sky wasn't falling anymore.

Inside the Phillies:

Read The Inquirer's Phillies blog, The Phillies Zone, by Bob Brookover and Matt Gelb, at

Blog response of the week

Subject: Phillies' being shut out by two Japanese pitchers and two knuckleballers.

From: stikolaboloni at 11:16 a.m. Thursday

Comment: "Geez, hopefully they don't have to face any Japanese knuckleballers in the playoffs. Oh well, here come a bunch of 'Sky Is Falling!!' comments."