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Bullpen fails Phillies in 10-6 loss to Mets

Before a ballpark showered them with boos and - even worse - apathy, Shane Victorino dashed across the Phillies clubhouse Wednesday. It was three hours before a 10-6 loss, when Victorino patted Charlie Manuel on the back and turned on his music. A Zac Brown Band song blasted the lyrics, "Not a worry in the world, a cold beer in my hand."

Charlie Manuel addressed the team after Wednesday night's Phillies loss to the Mets. (Steven M. Falk / Staff Photographer)
Charlie Manuel addressed the team after Wednesday night's Phillies loss to the Mets. (Steven M. Falk / Staff Photographer)Read more

The room was quiet now because Charlie Manuel had already delivered a loud message to his beaten team. Many of the Phillies had dressed, left their clubhouse and ventured into the wet darkness. Still in his full uniform, Cliff Lee sat with Roy Halladay and Chad Qualls. Joe Savery packed his bags for Allentown. Jimmy Rollins hopped onto a table and broke the silence.

"You don't have to whisper," he said. "It's not the end of the world."

Fates are not decided after 32 baseball games, but Manuel decided an intervention was required. All he had to do was watch Wednesday's 10-6 defeat to New York - 2 hours, 56 minutes of baseball that made him seethe.

"And usually," Manuel said, "I stay pretty cool."

A night earlier, the manager said he could not put into words what he wanted to say to his team. The crowd escaping miserable baseball long before it ended Wednesday at Citizens Bank Park can fill in the blanks for him.

The Phillies were swept at home by the Mets for the first time in six years. All three defeats were handed to New York by a beleaguered Phillies bullpen. They have not been four games under .500 since May 9, 2007, and a depleted roster already stretched to its limits is being exposed on a nightly basis.

So one by one, the Phillies that remained after their manager had chewed into them verbalized their failure.

"There needs to be more urgency," Lee said.

"We've all got to look ourselves in the mirror," Hunter Pence said. "We've all got to figure something out."

"There definitely needs to be a change in intensity," Rollins said. "That comes with relaxing. When you win, everybody relaxes."

A chance at winning ended once the bullpen door opened Wednesday. Kyle Kendrick was asked to protect a two-run lead in the seventh inning. Antonio Bastardo had thrown 38 pitches in the previous two days, rendering the only reliable middle relief option unavailable. Battered setup man Qualls was also not an option, Manuel said. He declined to provide a reason.

And as the inning spiraled into chaos, no one warmed in the Phillies bullpen. Kendrick walked the leadoff batter. He allowed back-to-back doubles. He walked another. He plunked Lucas Duda to score the tying run. A groundout put the Mets ahead for good.

"It wasn't good," Kendrick said.

In all, Kendrick faced nine batters. Five of them scored, and six reached base. Jose Contreras promptly allowed two more runs, and the majors' worst bullpen proved things could be grislier.

Changes will follow. Savery was optioned to triple-A Lehigh Valley after the game. Promising lefthander Jake Diekman is his likely replacement. There is little else that can be done.

"That's who we have," Manuel said.

Manuel used his 27th different lineup in 32 games. His offense has actually displayed faint signs of life only to be destroyed by the bullpen. In the three-game series, the Phillies bullpen was tagged for 14 runs in 7 1/3 innings. When the hitting clicks, the pitching does not. When the pitching is pristine, the hitting is cold.

Do these Phillies have enough talent for success?

"There's plenty enough talent to have it," Rollins said. "You have to have the desire to it."

Mental mistakes are pervasive. Shane Victorino dived for a ball that would have been a single had he let it bounce in front of him. Instead, it was a leadoff triple in the sixth and resulted in a Mets run off Lee. A routine fly ball popped out of Pence's glove in the eighth.

"I'd boo myself, too," Pence said.

The collapse ruined Lee's positive return from the disabled list. Making his first start in 20 days, he was limited by a pitch count. Incredibly, the Phillies have lost the last eight games started by Lee and Halladay.

"Something needs to change," Lee said. "We need someone to shake it up and get us on back on track to being the team we know can be."

Judging by their brand of baseball, it might take more than a sermon from Manuel.