Defense lets Hamels down as skid continues

Defense lets Hamels down as skid continues

Defense lets Hamels down as skid continues
PHILADELPHIA -- On his most pleasant afternoons, when the Phillies are hitting 500-foot home runs, the aces are putting up zeros and the bullpen is holding leads, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel's face holds a pinkish hue.

That pink has turned to red.

The Phillies lost their sixth consecutive game on Thursday, 8-3, to the Los Angeles Dodgers at Citizens Bank Park. Philadelphia fell to 28-31 overall and 12-19 at home, which is the worst record at home in the National League.

Thursday encapsulated a rough stretch. The Phillies played sloppily in the field, scored in just one inning and watched once again as the bullpen could not keep the game close.

Asked about his level of frustration, Manuel said, "I never put it up to a level. I feel how hot my face gets."

How hot is it?

"Pretty hot."

Three to five years ago, the Phillies beat teams into submission with a powerful offense. The last couple seasons, they ran Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels and Vance Worley at teams, giving opponents a defeated feeling even before they stepped into the batter's box.

And they always caught the ball and played good defense.

But the air of invincibility is gone. Losing does that.

"I thought we lost that edge quite a while ago, if you want to know the truth," Manuel said. "We don't scare nobody. We used to have a swagger. We used to be kind of cocky in a real good way. Teams used to definitely fear us. I definitely don't see that fear no more. I don't see that. I'm sorry. I'm answering your question very honestly. No, I don't see where we scare nobody. Nobody backs down from us. As a matter of fact, they come right at us, they take it right to us."

The Phillies took a 3-0 lead in the third inning, but a couple Ty Wigginton errors at third base allowed a run to score in the fourth. Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels, who has been one of the team's only bright spots, allowed three runs in the sixth to hand the Dodgers a 4-3 lead.

Hamels appeared to lose his cool a couple times, particularly following a walk to Elian Herrera to lead off the sixth.

"I don't let the errors affect me," Hamels said. "The walks, I do. I hate walking guys. I hate giving guys free bases. You've got to get past it and you can't let it affect the next pitch and the next pitch. I try not to let that happen, but unfortunately I guess it got the best of me -- again."

Hamels has a 5.23 ERA in his last three starts. He allowed six hits, four runs, three earned runs, one walk and struck out six in six innings Thursday. He allowed five runs in 6 2/3 innings in a 5-4 loss to the Marlins on June 2, which started the Phillies on their losing streak.

Hamels blew 3-0 leads both times.

"I obviously started the losing streak, and I'm still on the losing streak," he said. "It's not fun. I hate to lose, and I've got two losses. We get the lead and we're giving it up. That's the frustrating part. You see a win in one hand and see it evaporate. They have a good team, and they've got players that are playing really well. But at the same time, they're missing some of their big guys. You have to be able to jump all over a team when they're missing their All-Stars, their MVPs, their guys. If you can't do that, it's not going well."

Every day, the Phillies are asked about playing without Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and, most recently, Roy Halladay. It certainly hurts. That is $55 million worth of 2012 payroll and talent on the disabled list.

"That's a big part of the production," Dodgers starter Aaron Harang said of Utley and Howard. "Those guys protect the Hunter Pences and the [Shane] Victorinos. Those guys protect the guys in front of them and behind them, so those guys can be productive and get pitches to hit. You can tell that those guys are missed over there, and I'm sure the team's antsy to try to get them back as soon as possible. I think that will make a big change in how their team is going to play out the remainder of the season."

But it should be noted the Dodgers are playing without injured center fielder Matt Kemp, who might be the best player in baseball. Los Angeles did not start Andre Ethier on Thursday, either. Ethier entered the afternoon leading the National League with 46 RBIs. And Los Angeles still found a way to sweep the four-game series. The Dodgers won three one-run games to start the series before scoring four runs against Chad Qualls -- he has a 5.32 ERA this season, and an 8.68 ERA in his last 10 appearances -- to blow open the finale.

"If we're using the injuries, that's just an excuse in my mind," Wigginton said. "The Dodgers didn't have Matt Kemp. That's one of the best players in the game. Injuries are an excuse."

So the Phillies will hope for better fortune on a nine-game road trip in Baltimore, Minnesota and Toronto. They better, or they could find themselves buried in the National League East standings before Howard, Utley and Halladay come back.

"I've always said, when our backs are against the wall, we play our best," Victorino said. "And it seems like our backs are pretty much pressed as far back to the wall as they can get. I think it's a time for us to take a gut check, check ourselves and do what we can do. Again, ultimately, we are a great team, we just have to go out and let it all hang out and let it happen."

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.