But the Phillies have shown signs of life recently under interim skipper Ryne Sandberg, as well as a flair for the dramatic. They scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning on Thursday night, capped by Domonic Brown's RBI single to give the Phillies a 5-4 walk-off win over the Rockies at Citizens Bank Park.
The Phillies have won four of their last five games -- three in walk-off fashion, including two in a row to win the four-game set with Colorado.
"Positive energy goes a long way," Sandberg said.
"I think we've got 30 games left and we're trying to make a statement coming into next year," Brown said. "We're having a lot of fun and we're making sure that we prepare the right way, and going out and working hard."
Darin Ruf's two-run home run to left field in the eighth inning made it a one-run game. Ruf has homered seven times this month, which is tied for sixth in the big leagues behind Miguel Cabrera, Chris Davis, Alfonso Soriano, Donnie Murphy and Justin Upton, who have all hit eight.
The ninth started with a two-out double into the right-field corner from Jimmy Rollins, who then stole third base, against closer Rafael Betancourt.
Michael Young followed with a dribbler past the pitcher's mound to allow Rollins to score easily from third to tie the game.
Young has come up big in each of the three walk-off victories. He reached on an error last Sunday against the Dodgers, which allowed the Phillies to score the winning run. He then singled to left to drive in the winning run on Wednesday against Colorado.
Young had delivered a game-winning RBI in each of his three previous opportunities: July 13 against the White Sox, Sunday against the Dodgers and Wednesday against the Rockies. Before this recent run, Young had only one game-winning RBI in his previous 37 opportunities dating to 2009.
"I'd like to do something before those final at-bats, to be honest with you," Young said. "The key is making sure we're getting wins. I have a lot of good at-bats left in me this season. I think the biggest thing is that we're bearing down as a team, and I think that's something we weren't doing earlier in the year. We talked about it as a team, we weren't coming back at all. If we were down, we were losing. It feels good to show some life, show some heart at the end of these games."
Chase Utley worked a walk against Rockies left-hander Jeff Francis, who came on after Betancourt left with an elbow injury, to put runners on first and second. Brown followed and ripped a first-pitch breaking ball into right field to score Young.
"I just got a good pitch to hit," Brown said. "I knew he was going to try to get ahead of me with the first pitch. I was just looking for something up to drive."
Brown's hit erased a rough finish for right-hander Kyle Kendrick. He cruised through five innings before he allowed a three-run home run to Wilin Rosario in the sixth to hand the Rockies a 4-1 lead.
Kendrick started the season 7-4 with a 3.46 ERA in 16 starts through June 25, but is 3-7 with a 6.45 ERA in 10 starts since.
"Threw well against the Dodgers [on Saturday] and this one I was throwing well, and that one bad pitch can ruin an outing," he said. "But I feel good. Got a couple base hits there and the home run. ... Got to pitch your way out of it."
The stretch that ultimately led to the Phillies dismissing Manuel and replacing him with Sandberg had been brutal on the chemistry in the clubhouse.
The players have noticed a difference of late.
It's amazing what a few wins can do, isn't it?
The Phillies are just 57-70, 20 games behind the Braves in the National League East and 15 ½ games behind for the second NL Wild Card. There will likely be no postseason this year, but the Phillies say they are still playing for something.
"We've talked about it a couple times over the last week, making sure that everyone has a lot of pride in the way they play the game," Young said. "Obviously, we're deep back in the standings. But five or six weeks left is a ton of time to play good baseball. There are a lot of games to be played. I think everyone looks forward to that opportunity to go out there and show what they're made of."