Phillies drop fifth straight

Phillies catcher Erik Kratz awaits the late throw as Pete Kozma scores from second base on a single by Matt Carpenter in the Cardinals' three-run third inning.
Phillies catcher Erik Kratz awaits the late throw as Pete Kozma scores from second base on a single by Matt Carpenter in the Cardinals' three-run third inning. (TOM GANNAM / Associated Press)
Posted: July 27, 2013

ST. LOUIS - This is the time for meetings. Meetings with scouts, meetings with coaches, meetings with players. No one is safe from the Phillies' lifeless performances. This sinking ship departed Missouri Thursday night and set course for Michigan having endured three lifeless losses in three agonizing days here. There will be more meetings in Detroit because the time for reckoning is upon this team.

The Phillies lost again, 3-1, to the powerhouse Cardinals, a team that flaunted its superior brand of baseball. The season was not destroyed in 8 hours and 35 minutes this week. But combine that with the evidence generated in the previous four months, and the argument for conceding is strong.

Listen to Ruben Amaro Jr., whose words are teeming with doubt. Last weekend, the general manager said he was a buyer. He hedged that statement before Thursday's loss, the team's fifth straight. These Phillies will play without Domonic Brown, Ryan Howard, and Ben Revere for at least a week. Asking them to compete, or even believing in their ability when the injured return, is a risky proposition.

"We have to keep an open mind where we're going to go," Amaro said. "We'd like to add to this club and improve it. We've had a lot of rough injuries. A lot of it will depend when Dom can come back.

"We'll have to assess it as the deadline gets closer. We always have to look to improve the club. That's always the focus. How aggressively we do that, we'll have to see as we get closer to the 31st."

Improving the club can take many forms. The barren market favors sellers.

Manager Charlie Manuel was asked whether he could make a case for this team being buyers.

"It depends on what kind of pieces we would pick up," Manuel said. "We would have to add good pieces. I'm not going to bash any players. But if we're going to add some pieces, we have to add some people with impact."

The Phillies have played 102 games and their opponents have outscored them by 59 runs. Just one Phillies team outscored by more than 30 runs at this juncture finished with better than a .500 record. The 1962 Phillies possessed a minus-60 run differential at the 102-game mark. They ended at 81-80. History begs the Phillies to sell.

St. Louis is elite. The Cardinals have scored 142 more runs than their opponents. They fielded a lineup Thursday that featured eight players they drafted and developed. No one in their lineup was older than 31.

They started Lance Lynn, who had a 6.30 ERA in his previous five starts. He permitted one run in seven innings. The Cardinals' three-run third inning against Kyle Kendrick was enough.

Kendrick, a seven-year veteran of this team during its more fruitful days, said this is a low point.

"We're in a rough patch right now, you could say," Kendrick said. "We haven't really been consistent all year. We've looked good at times, but we're not consistent. It's with everybody. We need to start playing better. We have a short time to turn around."

Steve Susdorf, a 27-year-old rookie, became the 42d Phillies player in 2013 when he pinch-hit in the seventh inning. He bounced into an inning-ending double play. The newest player conformed to this morbid tableau with haste.


Contact Matt Gelb at mgelb@phillynews.com.

Follow on Twitter @magelb.

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