ATLANTA - At 11:30 a.m., Charlie Manuel had a clubhouse employee turn off the big-screen TV showing the movie Gran Torino. A handful of Phillies had gathered around to watch. Quietly, Manuel seethed from his office.
"What the hell?" Manuel said he thought. "We should be getting ready for the damn game."
There is some complacency around this Phillies team that was swept by Atlanta with a 2-1 loss Wednesday at Turner Field, Manuel said. For the first time in more than a year, the Phillies are 21/2 games out of first place.
The Phils have not scored more than three runs in any of their last 11 games, nine of which have been losses. In the last 40 years, that stretch of offensive futility has been matched just once, in 1997.
The 2-7 trip marked the worst record for the Phillies on a nine-game road swing since 2006.
No, Manuel said, the complacency he detects isn't the sole reason the Phillies have spiraled into a free fall. Not at all.
Seven days earlier, Manuel had held a brief meeting with his team after it was shut out by the New York Mets for a second consecutive game. He reminded the players that a positive attitude and confidence had made them back-to-back National League champions. That, he said, was the thing to remember.
So the pregame scene in the visitors' clubhouse at Turner Field upset Manuel.
"When we go bad," he said, "that's when we really need to stay focused and on the right path."
Chase Utley and Shane Victorino said they don't sense any complacency in the Phillies' clubhouse. They cited this team's having overcome other losing streaks as a basis for confidence.
"Deep down in the back of our heads, we know, 'Hey, we're a good-enough team that if we can find a way to get out of this rut, we can make up ground like that,' " Victorino said. "From what I see, it's not complacency. We understand we've been here. We have to find a way."
Wednesday's game was lost in the eighth inning under an unlikely set of circumstances. Atlanta third baseman Chipper Jones left in the fifth inning with inflammation in his right ring finger, leaving a hole in the middle of the Braves' lineup. With one on, Phillies righthander Jose Contreras intentionally walked Jason Heyward to face Jones' replacement, Omar Infante.
Infante promptly singled over Utley's glove to score the eventual winning run.
It was just the second run Contreras had allowed all season, with both coming at Turner Field.
The offense and bullpen ruined an outstanding outing by fifth starter Kyle Kendrick. He allowed one run on five hits over seven innings.
"That's the best I've seen him pitch all year," Manuel said.
These days, a Phillies starter has to be near flawless. In seven of their last 11 games, the Phillies have scored either one run or none at all.
Utley said the team's focus has remained strong.
"It seems that way," the second baseman said. "We're not really swinging the bats well, obviously. Our pitching staff has done a good job of keeping us in a lot of games, which is a good sign."
But eventually, merely looking for silver linings will have to evolve into actually winning games.
"When you play this game, you can't take anything for granted, because it's an everyday process," Manuel said. "Just because we did something last year doesn't mean we're going to do it again this year. It's hard. You have to make sure that you stay focused, keep the same intensity, that same drive."