SAN DIEGO - These are the nights that breed the most frustration. An otherworldly pitcher was barely human for two innings and it was the difference between winning and losing. Without any semblance of a consistent offense, the Phillies straddle such a precarious line nightly.
Roy Halladay did not possess his typical pristine command of his pitches and lost 5-1. He had half as many hits as the players paid millions to actually hit the baseball.
So the Phillies lost to the worst team in baseball and there was nothing surprising about it - save the uncharacteristic spell of Halladay walks.
Is there concern permeating the clubhouse walls?
"Concern? No," Jimmy Rollins said. "There's definitely not any concern. There is frustration. You can look in the dugout at times and it's like, 'What is going on?' Sometimes there's just no answers."
It's the story of the early portion of this Phillies season, which was made even challenging with the news of Cliff Lee landing on the disabled list. They have taken steps of progress only for a clunker like Saturday to serve as an agonizing reminder of a new reality without two superstars. The Phillies have scored six runs in five games started by lefthanded pitchers in 2012. The latest beneficiary was Cory Luebke, who tossed a career-high eight shutout innings on 110 pitches. He did it with 65 percent fastballs.
"We didn't hit too many balls hard," Charlie Manuel said.
The Phillies lost at Petco Park for the first time in 13 games, dating back to Aug. 16, 2008. Halladay started Saturday and against an offense as anemic as the Phillies' it was too easy to assume more dominance. It was nothing more than a reverse lock.
Halladay had faced 10,447 batters in his 15-year career entering the night. He had never walked three straight until the second inning against San Diego. Some of the pitches were close, but none were egregiously miscalled by home-plate umpire Jerry Layne. Halladay never took exception as he is wont to do, and only stared ahead blankly as he departed the mound.
Yonder Alonso, Cameron Maybin and Jason Bartlett walked on a total of 19 pitches. It was the eighth time in his career he walked three in one inning. The last time it happened was July 16, 2004.
"He's human," Manuel said. "Stuff like that is going to happen. He pitched good enough to win a game. He can't throw shutouts all the time and he's not going to."
Still, Halladay only allowed one run as a result of the three free passes. Orlando Hudson bounced one in the hole that Galvis snared. As he rolled over, he threw from the seat of his pants and nabbed Hudson. A run scored. Luebke struck out and that was that.
"It's not ideal," Halladay said. "It cost me a run. It was definitely frustrating."
The Padres entered Saturday second in the majors with 61 walks drawn. They had baseball's worst record, but at least they were patient about it.
Much less could be said about the Phillies offense, which barely made Luebke sweat. He retired the final 10 batters he faced. They scored only with two outs in the ninth when the game was already put out of reach by Mike Stutes' shoddy relief.
Even as the Phillies had won the first two games of this series, Manuel was limited in his praise. Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino have shown the most promise offensively. But there is a veritable hole at first base; Rollins has one hit in his last 22 at-bats; Placido Polanco's bat looks slow; John Mayberry Jr. has struck out in 31 percent of his at-bats; and Carlos Ruiz is sidelined with a wrist injury.
"We're going to score runs," Manuel said. "We have to keep going and see what happens. We have a long, long ways to go."
Even so, it hardly takes the sting away from a night like Saturday.