Enough of that, Manuel figured. When he filled out the lineup card for Sunday's game, he had all his regulars in there for the first time since they clinched on Sept. 17 and the fifth time since they acquired Hunter Pence July 30.
The difference in production was dramatic. The Phillies, who hit .224 and averaged two runs a game during the eight-game losing streak, their longest since 2000, pounded Mets pitching for 19 hits, their second-most in a game this season.
By the end of the third inning, when the Phillies had a 5-0 lead, each player in the lineup had a hit - even Roy Halladay, who won his 19th game with six shutout innings. It was 9-0 after four innings.
"It felt great," said Ryan Howard, who went 2 for 3 with an RBI before he was pulled to rest his sore feet. "I'm sure there was plenty of panic all over the place. There was no panic here in the clubhouse, and that's the thing. If we don't panic, then nobody else should panic. It was a matter of getting everybody together."
Of course, one very productive day doesn't guarantee the Phillies will go storming into the postseason on a wave of momentum. On the other hand, it served as evidence this team is still up for a challenge because that's exactly what Manuel did following Saturday's doubleheader sweep by the Mets. He challenged them by saying the Phillies hadn't had to deal with bad times until they fell into a deep hitting funk, and their resilience was being tested.
"I think you see the difference," Manuel said. "When we've got all our guys in there we've got a pretty good lineup. But when you've got two or three of them missing, we become a different team. Most teams are like that. It's very important we keep our guys in there."
Manuel did tweak the lineup by moving Chase Utley from the third to the second hitter and batting Hunter Pence third. Pence got things rolling by ripping a wicked line-drive over the 378-foot sign in right center, an impressive display of power for a righthanded hitter. He had three hits and drove in three runs, raising his average to .313.
Jimmy Rollins, who was 0 for 16 going into the second game of Saturday's doubleheader, got six hits the last two games. Carlos Ruiz had four hits and was on base five times.
Now, the Phillies head to Atlanta for a three-game series that will conclude the regular season. It should be interesting, because St. Louis on Sunday closed within one game of the Braves for the wild card spot. If the Cardinals overtake the Braves, they will be the Phillies' opponent in the National League division series. The Cards play at Houston their last three games.
"You want to go into the playoffs the right way," Howard said. "Our goal is to go in there and win a series, and whatever happens between Atlanta and St. Louis happens. Everyone kind of exploded today. Hopefully, we can keep it all together for October."
Who's On Deck?
The Phillies, who have clinched the National League's best record, do not know who their National League division series opponent will be. If Atlanta wins the wild card, the Phils will play the division winner with the worst record. The Milwaukee Brewers, at 94-65, are the Central champion, and the West champion Arizona Diamondbacks are 93-66. If they tie, the Phils will play the Brewers. If the Cardinals win the wild card, the Phils will play St. Louis. If the Cardinals and Braves tie, St. Louis hosts a tiebreaker Thursday.
W L GB REMAINING
Atlanta 89 70 - Three vs. Phillies
St. Louis 88 71 1 Three at Astros
Contact staff writer Ray Parrillo at firstname.lastname@example.org or @rayparrilloinq on Twitter.