Phillies looking for answers after sweep

Phillies looking for answers after sweep

Phillies looking for answers after sweep
TORONTO -- The Phillies' nine-game, three-city road trip couldn't have possibly ended any worse.

Any momentum the Phillies had generated after winning two straight against the Twins before coming to Toronto quickly evaporated over a hot weekend north of the border.

Kyle Kendrick was roughed up for the third consecutive outing, Philadelphia's bats were silenced, and the club was swept, dropping a 6-2 contest to the Blue Jays in front of a sellout crowd at Rogers Centre on Sunday.

"We're just going to have to come out and play better," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "We know what we have to do, but getting it done is another thing. We have to come out and play better baseball, outplay the other team. They outplayed us today.

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"I've seen us make climbs. But, then again, we have to get healthy. We have to get everybody back."

The loss dropped the last-place Phillies six games under .500 for the first time since April 2007, and they trail the National League East-leading Nationals by nine games.

"It's definitely not early, but at the same time, we have to take care of business ourselves," Manuel said. "We can't be looking at Washington right now. We have to dig ourselves out. If we win games, that will take care of itself."

The Phillies were forced to immediately dig themselves out of a hole, as Kendrick ran into trouble early.

Kendrick surrendered back-to-back doubles to Brett Lawrie and Colby Rasmus to start the game that gave Toronto a 1-0 lead. Kelly Johnson followed three batters later with a single up the middle to score Rasmus and put the Blue Jays ahead, 2-0.

Jim Thome helped cut the lead in half in the second inning with a solo homer to right off Blue Jays starter Brett Cecil, his fourth of the year and 608th of his career, to move within one of Sammy Sosa for the seventh on the all-time list.

The following inning, John Mayberry Jr. evened up the score for Kendrick by connecting on his second homer in as many days and fifth of the season. But the Phillies were unable to get another run across for the rest of the game.

Cecil started his first game of the season and earned the victory after going five innings and allowing two runs on five hits, while striking out five, before Blue Jays relievers Luis Perez and Jason Frasor closed the door for Toronto.

"The curveball has gotten a lot better and it's a lot tighter," Cecil said about the adjustments he made down in the Minors to start the year. "That, and just being able to control the ball a lot better with all of my pitches and throwing to both sides of the plate."

After Kendrick allowed an RBI single to Rajai Davis in the fourth, Toronto put the game out of reach in the fifth inning.

Kendrick served up a first-pitch offering that Rasmus deposited into the upper deck in right field, a two-run shot and his 10th of the season, that put Toronto ahead, 5-2.

It was a cutter that got too much of the plate, according to Kendrick. He said the ball was down and in -- he would have preferred to elevate it more -- and right in Rasmus' swing path.

The 27-year-old Kendrick dropped to 2-7 on the year and saw his ERA rise to 5.29 in the third consecutive start in which he has allowed five runs or more.

"I felt like I pitched a lot better than what my numbers showed," said Kendrick, who lasted 6 1/3 innings, allowing six runs (five earned) on eight hits, while walking two and striking out four. "A couple mistakes they hit and didn't miss. It's a pretty good hitting team over there, I have to give them credit. I felt fine."

Kendrick, who has been a member of the Phillies since 2007 and is used to playing on a perennial contender, is surprised like everyone on the roster at how bad the team is playing.

"Since I have been here, it hasn't been like this. Only thing I can do is [keep] after it every day and worry about myself."

Perhaps the only positive that can be taken from the weekend for the Phillies was catcher Carlos Ruiz's return to action behind the dish.

Ruiz was forced to leave Friday's contest after sustaining an oblique strain during a sixth-inning at-bat. After missing Saturday's game, Ruiz got the start and batted sixth in the lineup.

"Carlos was encouraging," Manuel said. "He told me he was OK. It was decided he was ready to go today."

Philadelphia finished its three-city road trip with a 3-6 record and fell to 4-12 in the month of June.

After dropping two of three against the Orioles to start the trip, Philadelphia took two of three from Minnesota before the sweep in Toronto.

For Thome, it's hard to believe a team with as many stars as the Phillies can be playing this poorly. He didn't want to make excuses, but also said the loss of Ryan Howard and Chase Utley can't be understated.

"It can be frustrating because we have a very talented club," Thome said about the Phillies' rough month. "You look around this room, we have winners. We have guys who have played big games. Baseball is a weird game. I don't think it's for a lack of caring. ... Some days, it just doesn't work out. Hopefully, we can bring some positive baseball back to Philadelphia."

Chris Toman is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.