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Phillies are in a state of distress

With two losses in Cleveland, and three in Cincinnati, the Phillies are winless in Ohio this season.

Unless the Phillies sweep the Marlins, they'll begin a brutal portion of their schedule on Monday with a losing record. (Tony Dejak/AP)
Unless the Phillies sweep the Marlins, they'll begin a brutal portion of their schedule on Monday with a losing record. (Tony Dejak/AP)Read more

CLEVELAND - The last time the Phillies came through Ohio, they played three consecutive games without drawing a single walk.

They scored four runs. They were swept in three games by the Cincinnati Reds.

Two weeks after departing Great American Ball Park, the Phils arrived at Progressive Field in Cleveland and changed things up a bit. After getting beat by a dozen runs by the Indians on Tuesday night, they let Trevor Bauer go wild.

Bauer led an Indians pitching staff that issued seven walks to Phillies hitters Wednesday night. Four of those walks led off innings.

Despite the hospitality, the Phillies once again couldn't muster any offense in Ohio. Five Indians pitchers combined on a three-hit shutout as the Phils fell, 6-0.

One night removed from hitting seven home runs off Roy Halladay and Co., the Indians tortured Cliff Lee and Co. with seven infield hits en route to victory. Cleveland outscored the Phillies 20-2 in the two-game series.

"They took it to us pretty good," manager Charlie Manuel said.

Lee was a bit more blunt.

"They pretty much pounded us both games, there's no way around it," Lee said. "They crushed us both games. It was never really close, either one of them. We have to have a little more pride than that and figure out a way to at least get back into games and make it somewhat competitive."

The Phillies were shut out for the fourth time in their last 15 games.

After beginning the road trip with a three-game sweep in New York, the Phils (12-16) were swept in a two-game series in Cleveland and are off to their worst start after 28 games since 2005.

Unless the Phils sweep a four-game series with the Marlins that begins Thursday night at Citizens Bank Park, they'll begin a brutal portion of their schedule on Monday with a losing record. Following the brief four-game homestand, the Phils leave for a seven-game trip through San Francisco and Arizona.

Beginning with that trip, the Phils will play 15 of 20 games on the road, including games against the defending world champs (San Francisco), the defending NL East champs (Washington) and the team with baseball's best record (Boston).

So, they'll probably want to get their offense in gear this weekend before hitting the road.

On Tuesday night, the Phils' run production came on the heels of two swings: solo home runs from Delmon Young and Chase Utley. Wednesday night, they didn't need a home run as much as they needed a hit of any kind with runners in scoring position.

Although Lee put his team in a hole by surrendering four runs in the first three innings, the Phillies had ample opportunities to put a few crooked numbers of their own on the scoreboard.

Bauer, a top prospect with a golden right arm but a wild side, walked the first batter in three of his first four innings.

He walked two of the first three batters he faced to begin the game. He walked back-to-back batters to begin the fifth inning.

Bauer didn't allow a run.

"He was pretty erratic, but somehow figured out a way to get it done," Lee said of his pitching counterpart. "He walked six guys and somehow [we] stranded them all."

While Lee saw the only two batters he walked come around to score, Bauer went unpunished for his own wildness. The 22-year-old held the Phillies to one hit in five shutout innings.

"He was effectively wild," Manuel said. "He could have had a chance to walk quite a few people. At the same time he made close-enough pitches for us to swing at. He presented the ball good to us. He was around the plate in the big counts."

Bauer's high walk total led to a high pitch count (93) and an early exit. The Phils didn't do any better against the Cleveland relievers that followed.

After Delmon Young worked a one-out walk and Domonic Brown followed with his (and the Phillies') second hit of the game to begin the sixth off Bryan Shaw, Carlos Ruiz and Laynce Nix both struck out to end the inning.

In the seventh, the Phils' first two batters reached base, but then Michael Young grounded into his seventh doubleplay of the season (he entered the night one behind Matt Holliday for the National League lead) and Utley followed with a groundout, too.

From the fifth to the seventh, the Phils had three straight innings where they had two runners on and less than two outs. They failed to score a single run three straight times.

The Phillies, manhandled in back-to-back games with the Indians, went 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position Wednesday night.

"It's a combination of them being extremely hot - they were swinging the bats well against two really good pitchers - so you have to give them some credit for that," Michael Young said. "But at the same time, we felt like we had a lot more to take offensively than what we showed these last couple games."

The Phils showed very little. In addition to being outscored in Cleveland, they were also outhit, 33-8.

Even when they aren't getting shut out, the Phillies often don't score enough to win. They have scored three runs or less in 16 of their 28 games (57 percent).

They are 4-12 in those games.

Following his team's latest lame offensive effort, Manuel was asked at what point was it no longer OK to use the "it's still early" excuse.

"I don't even like to use the word early," Manuel said. "The season is long and everything like that. [But] every day you play you get closer to the finish line. That's how much it counts."

Blog: ph.ly/HighCheese