PITTSBURGH - Charlie Manuel sat at his desk in the visitors clubhouse at PNC Park and fidgeted with a black pen in his right hand. He studied the lineup card, filled out with such promise hours before the Phillies' 2-1 loss to Pittsburgh, now scribbled on and wrinkled by 12 fruitless innings of baseball.
"I think that lineup is going to hit," Manuel said. "That lineup has to hit. I have confidence in those guys hitting. I've seen them for four or five years, some of them six or seven years. I don't see no reason why they won't hit."
He never raised his head. The manager stared at his batting order, which took 57 games to make, but finally Manuel had the lineup he hoped for at the beginning of spring training.
All it did Friday was waste a stellar effort from Cole Hamels, who allowed one hit in eight innings without his best stuff. The Phillies have lost three in a row and scored four times in those games. All six of their hits Friday were singles.
"We can get started any time we want to," Manuel deadpanned.
This one ended in the 12th inning when Danys Baez allowed a walk-off single by Jose Tabata. The ball scooted through the hole, past Chase Utley's glove, and scored Xavier Paul from second. (Paul had stolen the base just before.)
It was supposed to be the night everything changed. Manuel slotted Shane Victorino, starting a game for the first time in 20 days, fifth to separate his cadre of lefties in the middle of the lineup. He could return catcher Carlos Ruiz to his customary eighth spot. Above Victorino, Manuel started rookie Domonic Brown and batted him seventh, his unofficial initiation into the everyday batting order.
It's the lineup Manuel said he thought he would carry north from Clearwater. But that was the beginning of spring training - before Chase Utley's general soreness morphed into a chronic knee injury, before Brown's broken hand, Ruiz's concussion, and Victorino's stiff hamstring.
None of that mattered Friday because Hamels had more hits (two) than every other regular except for Jimmy Rollins (who also had two).
Hamels allowed fewer hits than he had. It was just the second time in Hamels' career he pitched eight innings while allowing one hit. The lefty did not have his best stuff; he walked three batters, his most in a start since April 22.
His first four pitches of the sixth were balls to the Pirates' No. 8 hitter, Ronny Cedeno, and that would haunt him later. Pitcher Jeff Karstens sacrificed Cedeno to second, and then Hamels uncorked a wild pitch to advance him to third. A deep sacrifice fly that pushed Victorino to the very edge of the dirt on the warning track in center scored the tying run.
"I had no clue where the ball was going that inning," Hamels said.
His offense provided no favors after that. The Phils scored in the sixth inning on an Utley single to send Rollins, who took second on a steal, home. Before that, Karstens hardly broke a sweat. The Phillies succumbed in order five times against Karstens, who had not completed seven innings in 355 days. He did just that against the lifeless Phillies.
"We went five innings there and hadn't squared a ball up," Manuel said. "Fifteen outs, we hadn't hit a ball on the nose."
That left a sulking Manuel unable to take his eyes off the lineup card. Each glance provided hope.
"I like that lineup," he said. "I think we'll score runs. I have confidence in it."
But for one night, at least, much remained the same.