PITTSBURGH - After his first-inning double against Charlie Morton, Jimmy Rollins was in pain from fouling a ball off his knee, but he still searched for Roy Halladay in the Phillies dugout. All of the stories, video, and scouting reports were true.
"It was like, this dude's really looking like Roy on the mound," Rollins said.
But Morton, the Pittsburgh righthander, could have been imitating Jason Marquis, John Lannan, or Jeff Karstens and still have beaten the Phillies. Those four starters held the Phillies to a total of seven runs in four games - all losses - the latest coming Saturday in the form of a 6-3 defeat to the Pirates.
Their reunited lineup has done nothing to inspire victory. Their comatose offense creates the thinnest margins for the pitching staff. Their manager spent a few minutes before the game attempting to convince himself that brighter days lie ahead.
"We've got a good team," Charlie Manuel said. "I've seen us hit in the past. I was a player for 20 years, and I've been in slumps, and sometimes you couldn't hit at all but you stay with it and things will get better. Things will get going. Every team goes through it."
He has a point: There are 104 games left. The Phillies remain in first place. And his team did muster one last stand in the ninth by scoring once and loading the bases against Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan. But Chase Utley hit a lazy fly ball to right that set off fireworks at PNC Park.
It is otherwise dreary right now. Further adding to the mess, Rollins fouled a ball off his right knee in the first inning and later left with a bruise on the side of his kneecap. The team has termed the injury day-to-day - but that is contingent on the swelling's subsiding. He will not play Sunday.
"It'll be a couple of days, but I don't think a DL thing, not at this moment," said Rollins, who was replaced in the third inning by Wilson Valdez. "If it stays swollen for four days with no improvement, then we'll look into it probably at that point. But right now I wouldn't put it that far. I can walk on it right now."
This trip will end Sunday, and not a moment too soon. The Phillies will take comfort in knowing Halladay starts the finale, but with this offense, it takes more than good pitching to win games.
It should come as no shock that another weekend at this ballpark has spawned disappointment. The Phillies are 12-22 (.353) at PNC Park since it was built in 2001, their worst winning percentage at any of the 15 opposing National League stadiums.
The largest crowd in ballpark history came to see Saturday's game (plus the postgame fireworks) and Halladay's clone in Morton. The 27-year-old has reinvented himself by adopting Halladay's delivery and mechanics. "I hope he ain't as good as Roy," Manuel said before the game.
He's not there yet, but Morton was splendid Saturday. The Phillies had six hits off him, only one for extra bases.
Three times the Phillies failed to score a runner on third with Morton on the mound. Utley left five on base. Howard, now hitting .243, stranded three.
Manuel said he sees a team swinging at bad pitches, even in favorable counts.
"We have to produce more offense than what we've been doing," Manuel said. "It's a must. We have to do that if we plan on winning."
Sometimes, a drab offense can make that feel impossible.
The don't call them the Four Aces because the Phillies have five top-quality starters. So how have the No. 5 starters done this season for the Phils? These three pitchers have performed in that role going into Saturday's start by Kyle Kendrick vs. Pittsburgh:
PITCHER STARTS IP H K/BB REC ERA
Joe Blanton 6 34.1 45 24/9 1-2 5.50
Vance Worley 4 20 24 16/8 2-1 4.05
Kyle Kendrick 3 13 17 5/2 1-2 6.75
TOTALS 13 67.1 86 45/19 4-5 5.21EndText