Sloppy Phillies fall to the Braves again, 6-1

Posted: August 07, 2012

Stand in the middle of the Phillies clubhouse at Citizens Bank Park and look up. The white ceiling is splotched with brown stains, the remnants of champagne celebrations from yesteryear.

The mood in the room is decidedly less festive these days. Each one brings another failure or empty victory. Apathy has spread to the blue seats, which are becoming easier to spot.

High above right field, Section 305 was barren Monday night, with about 15 rows unoccupied. The fans booed when first baseman Ryan Howard, 80 feet from second base, threw a ball straight at leftfielder Domonic Brown. A deflated ballpark watched a 6-1 loss to Atlanta, and for the first time in 257 games, the Phillies could not say a sellout crowd attended.

The streak is over, just another milestone in a cursed season. The Phillies lost for the 60th time in 2012, equaling their total for all of 2011. Through 109 games a season ago, they were 70-39.

This day was coming as irrelevancy swept through a franchise accustomed to success. The sellout streak was the third longest in Major League Baseball history, although many purchased tickets recently went unused and some began showing up for mere dollars on third-party resale websites.

"I did think it could happen," manager Charlie Manuel said. "I tried not to, but it was kind of obvious that might happen. It's kind of up to us to make sure we get our team together and get better and get our crowd back. I'm sure we can. I know we still have 40,000. I'm sorry we didn't sell out, because that just shows what kind of season we've had."

It ended in a game so archetypal of these 2012 Phillies. The starting pitching was bad; Vance Worley could not finish four innings because of a stomach ailment. The offense was limited to a John Mayberry Jr. home run. The defense was miserable, ridden with errant throws and mental mistakes.

This is life for the Phillies. Fewer people will watch. But they must play the final two months.

Worley dug the latest hole. It was just the third time in 42 career starts he pitched fewer than four innings. The Phillies have lost seven straight to the Braves, their longest such streak since 1996-97.

Worley said he started feeling ill about 30 minutes before the first pitch. He threw his pregame bullpen session and told the coaching staff he still wanted to start.

"It seemed like every time I tried to let loose it didn't go where I wanted," Worley said. He added: "I went out there with heart today."

Worley has shied away from blaming his inability to go deep on the bone chips in his right elbow, which forced him to miss 20 days earlier in the season. Recently, he admitted the condition makes it tougher to stay loose later in games. He is due for surgery after the season to remove the chips.

He has not thrown more than 90 pitches in each of his last three starts. On Monday, he lasted only 74 pitches before Manuel emerged with the hook.

"I'm going to play the whole thing out if I can," Worley said.

In fairness, some of the damage would have been avoided with a correct call. Freddie Freeman lined a double down the first-base line in the third inning that appeared foul on replays. It scored two runs and led to another when Freeman scampered home on a Worley wild pitch.

The Braves routinely made solid contact against Worley, who is allowing more hits per nine innings in 2012 and striking out fewer. His ERA is 3.83.

In the middle of the eighth inning, the Phillies showed a "Guess the Attendance" game on the Jumbotron as many fans filed out to their cars. The number was revealed as 41,665.

"The Phillies and Braves thank you," public address announcer Dan Baker said.

With a third of this wretched season still remaining, the fans had spoken.


Contact Matt Gelb at mgelb@phillynews.com or follow on Twitter @magelb.

 

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