PHOENIX - Charlie Manuel arrived at Chase Field about 10:30 a.m. Tuesday. He plopped down in the visiting manager's office, turned on the TV, and saw a replay of Monday's uninspiring Phillies defeat to Arizona. It had just begun, and the manager had two hours to kill, so he watched the whole thing.
Did he see anything that could help his scuffling offense?
"Yeah, a few things," Manuel said. "I don't particularly want to talk about them."
He won't want to think much about the latest loss, 7-5, to the Diamondbacks. His starting pitcher, Roy Oswalt, was out of the game after three innings. His offense put more runners on base but squandered chances. His defense failed to make a play when needed.
At least the streak of scoring four or fewer runs is over at 14 games, thanks to a meaningless, ninth-inning, two-run home run by Ben Francisco. Yes, the Phillies are 9-6 in their last 15 games. Yes, they still hold one of the top records in baseball (although the Marlins took over first place). Yes, it is April.
But the last two days have been deflating in the desert. Arizona sent two starting pitchers with ERAs of 5.64 and 5.92 against the Phillies, who have scored five times in 18 innings.
They stranded 10 runners on base Tuesday, most of them maddening. The best opportunity was in the seventh, down three, when two Diamondbacks relievers loaded the bases with three walks. But pinch-hitter John Mayberry Jr. flied out to right.
There could be concern for Oswalt, who was making his second start since developing mid-back spasms. Pitching coach Rich Dubee said earlier in the week that Oswalt was not 100 percent when he pitched against San Diego on Thursday.
He allowed five runs in three innings; it was his first loss in a Phillies uniform since his debut July 30, 2010.
Oswalt's velocity was very similar to his previous start in San Diego - a successful one - and his first after the back injury. In that game against the Padres, Oswalt induced 12 swings-and-misses in his 106 pitches. On Tuesday, Arizona batters whiffed at just one of Oswalt's 57 pitches.
In both games, his average fastball velocity was 91 m.p.h. He didn't appear to have the normal movement on his pitches against Arizona.
That was evident in the zero strikeouts Oswalt recorded. The only other start in his career of at least three innings without a strikeout was April 5, 2008.
It didn't help that nearly every Diamondbacks flare found grass. Francisco also took a poor route on a double by Arizona pitcher Daniel Hudson. The rightfielder was playing shallow against Hudson but broke in before dashing back only to have the ball sail over his head. It scored two runs.
The Phillies had their chances early, but twice Francisco scuttled an inning. The No. 5 hitter batted two times with a runner on third and one out. In the first, he struck out swinging. In the third, he popped out to third.
Raul Ibanez, now 0 for his last 25, made the final out in each of those innings - and the game. Both Ibanez and Manuel took comfort before Tuesday's game that a few of his recent outs were hit hard. But with his 2011 batting average down to .171, he could see the bench in the series finale when Arizona starts a lefthander. Manuel, however, insisted he is not ready for a platoon in left field.
The manager said he didn't make changes to the slumping lineup before because the Phillies were winning. Now they've lost two in a row to a middling Diamondbacks squad.
Luckily for Manuel, the Phillies play during the day Wednesday. There won't be much time to watch a replay of this one.
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