Through the season's early months, the Phillies looked capable of staying atop the division through September. They held onto first place in the NL East for 53 consecutive days before the Mets wrested the division's top spot from Philadelphia on July 24. Thus began a thrilling back-and-forth, two-month battle between Philly and New York.
By month: March 0-1, April 15-12, May 17-12, June 12-14, July 15-10, August 16-13, September 17-8
May 26: Phils pound Rockies in 20-5 win
The Phils' offense caught fire to provide perhaps the two most memorable games of the season's early months. In a two-day stretch, Philadelphia hammered the Astros in Houston, 15-6, then traveled home to clobber the Rockies, 20-5. It was the first time the Phillies had scored 35 runs in back-to-back games since July 2-3, 1999. Those two May wins sent a message to the rest of the league -- that the Phils' offense was a force to be reckoned with, capable of producing runs in a big way. In Philadelphia's rout of Colorado, Chase Utley led the way with a career-high six RBIs and Shane Victorino chipped in by crossing the plate four times.
July 24: Phillies fall out of first with 3-1 loss to Mets
After spending 53 consecutive days atop the NL East, the Phillies fell into second place after a 3-1 defeat at the hands of the Mets. It was a particularly tough-to-swallow defeat for the Phils, for several reasons. The loss capped six weeks of struggles at the plate, as the Phils recorded a .238 average between June 13 and July 24. That stretch also saw Philadelphia held to three runs or fewer 13 times. A solid start in this game by Jamie Moyer -- who held New York to one run on two hits in seven innings -- ultimately went for naught.
"We need to score more runs," manager Charlie Manuel said after the loss. "I look at the hitters we have, and we're going to hit. We've done it. It's just a matter of time before we get going. You run hot and cold."
Aug. 26: Phils surge back from seven-run deficit to beat the Mets in 13 innings and take back the top spot in the NL East.
The Phillies had many notable comebacks in 2008, but perhaps none as big as in their Aug. 26 win over the Mets. The Phils trailed, 7-0, but fought their way back, winning it in the 13th on a walk-off single by catcher Chris Coste. The win pushed the Phils one-half game ahead of the Mets in the race for the division.
Phillies' turning point: Sept. 14, (Game 2 of a day-night doubleheader)
The Phillies' playoff hopes were looking grim after they dropped two out of three to the Marlins at Citizens Bank Park in early September. The Brewers came into town with a four-game lead in the NL Wild Card race, and the Phils swept Milwaukee to even it up. In front of 39,776 towel-waving fans, Brett Myers dominated the Brewers in a complete-game victory Sept. 14 that pulled Philly into a tie with the Brewers.
Avg.: .255, 10th in NL
Runs: 791, 3rd in NL
HRs: 212, 1st in NL
OPS: .770, 3rd in NL
Avg.: Shane Victorino, .293
HRs: Ryan Howard, 48
RBIs: Ryan Howard, 146
Runs: Chase Utley, 113
OPS: Chase Utley, .915
SB: Jimmy Rollins, 47
On its best days, the Phils' offense works like a well-oiled machine: The top-of-the-lineup tandem of Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino gets on base and waits to be driven in by the powerful Nos. 3-5 trio of Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Pat Burrell. The Phils' big three sluggers are a big reason why Philadelphia leads the league in home runs and is third in runs scored.
Overall ERA: 3.89, 4th in NL
Starters' ERA: 4.22, 7th in NL
Bullpen ERA: 3.22, 1st in NL
Strikeouts: 1,073, 11th in NL
HRs allowed: 159, 11th in NL
Opponents' BA: .260, 8th in NL
Wins: Jamie Moyer, 16
ERA (starter): Cole Hamels, 3.09
ERA (reliever): Brad Lidge, 1.95
Strikeouts: Cole Hamels, 196
Saves: Brad Lidge, 41
Holds: J.C. Romero, 24
HRs allowed: Brett Myers, 29
Opponents' BA: Brad Lidge, .198
Moyer provided a consistent veteran presence throughout 2008 to an otherwise young corps of Phillies starting pitchers. The oldest player in the Major Leagues was also the Phils' most steady starter. Through Sept. 21, the left-hander led all Phils pitchers with 15 wins. From early June through late August, Moyer reeled off 14 consecutive starts in which he held opponents to three earned runs or fewer. Along with 24-year-old lefty Hamels, the two formed a powerful one-two punch at the top of Philadelphia's rotation. As long as the Phils went into the ninth inning with a lead, it was just about a sure bet that they would escape with a win. Lidge was the most reliable closer in franchise history, successful in 40 consecutive save opportunities through Sept. 21.
Fielding percentage: .985, 5th in NL
Errors: 90, 12th in NL
The Phils are solid through most of their infield, led by Gold Glover Jimmy Rollins at shortstop. Pedro Feliz and Greg Dobbs combine to provide mostly solid defense at third base. The Phillies' most troublesome areas are at first base. Howard leads the league with 17 errors at first base through Sept. 21.
April 23: Brewers 5, Phillies 4
April 24 Phillies 3, Brewers 1
Sept. 11: Phillies 6, Brewers 3
Sept. 13: Phillies 7, Brewers 3
Sept. 14, Game 1: Phillies 7, Brewers 3
Sept. 14, Game 2: Phillies 6, Brewers 1
vs. Cubs: 4-3
vs. Dodgers: 4-4
vs. Red Sox: 1-2
vs: Angels: 0-3
vs. Rays: 0-0
Kevin Horan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.