They got worse Friday night in a 12-2 loss to the Boston Red Sox. Jamie Moyer suffered the worst start of his career, allowing nine runs in one-plus inning. The Phillies suffered their worst loss since July 1, 2009, when they lost 11-1 to the Braves at Turner Field. They fell to third place in the National League East, the latest they have been in third since Aug. 15, 2007. And they are just 7-15 since May 17, which is the second-worst record in the league.
"You can't have the good without the bad," Howard said. "Otherwise you won't know how the good feels. I think it's a true test. The good thing is that it's June, and we'll try to turn it around and see where we are in September."
Phillies fans looking for a big shake-up are unlikely to get one, but their frustration is understandable. The Phillies have hit just .219 and scored just 2.4 runs per game in their past 22 games.
"We can't put our game together," manager Charlie Manuel said, "even the other night when we kept battling back. When we get pitching, we just don't hit. We haven't been hitting at all and our starting pitching has been very good. And then when we start swinging the bats a little bit better, then we get a bad pitched game and we play sloppy defense. We've got to put them all together."
Everything came apart after just a few batters Friday.
Moyer walked Marco Scutaro on six pitches to start the first inning. He retired Dustin Pedroia on a fielder's choice for the first out. But he allowed three consecutive doubles to Victor Martinez, David Ortiz and Adrian Beltre to make it 3-0. Mike Lowell followed with a two-run home run to left field to make it 5-0.
Moyer allowed a single and three more doubles in the second inning before Manuel pulled him from the game.
"We had a real good approach to Moyer," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "He didn't see us pulling a lot of balls foul. [We] squared up balls in the middle of the field, and when we scored the five, we came back in the next inning and kept at it."
"They threw a lot of guns at us," Manuel said. "They were hitting, man. Everything they hit it, seemed like it was on the [Green] Monster."
Moyer, who watched his ERA jump from 3.98 to 5.03, had not pitched this poorly since he allowed 11 runs in 3 2/3 innings Aug. 9, 2000, against the White Sox.
It was the third time a Phillies starter had allowed nine or more runs in one or fewer innings since 1951. It was the first time it happened since April 20, 2006, when Ryan Madson allowed nine runs in one inning against the Nationals at Citizens Bank Park. Ben Rivera also allowed nine runs in one inning July 9, 1993, against the Giants at Veterans Stadium.
Phillies right-hander David Herndon, who had not pitched since June 1, took over for Moyer in the second. Herndon allowed three runs in 3 2/3 innings as the Red Sox took a 12-0 lead after just three frames.
The Phillies scored a run in the fourth inning, but at that point, Manuel made some changes. He pulled center fielder Shane Victorino, second baseman Chase Utley and Howard from the game and replaced them with Ben Francisco, Wilson Valdez and Greg Dobbs, respectively.
Manuel said he wanted to give his bench players some at-bats. He also wanted to get Victorino, Utley and Howard off their feet. There have been 531 NL players who have played in the field this season. Howard ranked 15th in innings played, Victorino ranked 25th and Utley ranked 37th.
It has been established that Friday night's loss was ugly, as well as the past three-plus weeks. But combing through Phialdelphia's worst losses in recent seasons came this: following the Phillies' 11-1 loss last season to the Braves, the Phillies were 39-36. They finished 54-33 for the best record in the NL.
The Phils had not lost by more than 10 runs since a 12-0 loss to the Rockies on Sept. 12, 2007, at Citizens Bank Park. Fans might remember that blowout, because Philadelphia finished the season 14-3 to win the NL East.
This is not to suggest the Phillies will go on a tear following Friday's loss. They historically have fared poorly in Interleague Play, and their next 14 games are against the American League. Howard just knows he needs to look ahead.
"You go out and play this game, and sometimes you just get beat," he said. "They came out swinging."