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With offense stuck in neutral, Phils in 2-1 hole

With offense stuck in neutral, Phils in 2-1 hole

SAN FRANCISCO -- It seems pointless to panic.

The Phillies have lost their offensive mojo in the postseason, which has put them in a 2-1 hole against the Giants in the National League Championship Series. They floundered again Tuesday in a 3-0 loss in Game 3 at AT&T Park.

But panic? How could that help?

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"We still have a chance," Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz said. "Whatever happened today is over."

The Phils echoed Ruiz's sentiment in a quiet clubhouse.

"We're down, 2-1," center fielder Shane Victorino said. "It's a long series, brother. We know that. Swing the bat. That's all you can do."


The talk appears to be more than lip service. The Phillies had the opportunity to pitch Roy Halladay on short rest Wednesday in Game 4, but manager Charlie Manuel said Joe Blanton will pitch as scheduled. Manuel also could start right-handed-hitting Ben Francisco over left-handed-hitting Raul Ibanez against Giants lefty Madison Bumgarner in Game 4. Ibanez is hitless in 11 at-bats, with five strikeouts, in the series, but Manuel said, "It's getting kind of late to be trying to make moves, isn't it?"

If the Phillies lose Game 4, it will be very late. Teams with a 3-1 lead in the LCS are 24-6.

The Phils, who were shut out for the sixth time in postseason history, hope to have better luck against Bumgarner than they had Tuesday against righty Matt Cain, who allowed just two hits in seven scoreless innings.

"I thought Cain was too good," Manuel said.

It wasted a decent effort from Philadelphia left-hander Cole Hamels. He allowed five hits, three runs and one walk and struck out eight in six innings, but pitched better than his line indicated.

Hamels cruised through three perfect innings before finding trouble in the fourth as the Giants took a 2-0 lead. San Francisco had runners on first and second with two outs when Cody Ross stepped to the plate. He killed the Phillies in Games 1 and 2 at Citizens Bank Park, hitting three solo home runs.

Foiled Phils
Fewest hits by the Phillies in a playoff game
Date Game Opp. Res. H
10/4/1950 WS 1 NYY 1-0 L 2
10/19/2010 NLCS 3 S.F. 3-0 L 3
10/6/2007 NLDS 3 Col. 2-1 L 3
10/12/1983 WS 2 Bal. 4-1 L 3
10/11/1915 WS 3 Bos. 2-1 L 3
10/9/1915 WS 2 Bos. 2-1 L 3
10/16/2009 NLCS 2 L.A. 2-1 L 4
10/1/2008 NLDS 1 Mil. 3-1 W 4
10/3/2007 NLDS 1 Col. 4-2 L 4
10/5/1978 NLCS 2 L.A. 4-0 L 4
10/6/2010 NLDS 1 Cin. 4-0 W 5
10/19/2009 NLCS 4 L.A. 5-4 W 5
10/21/1993 WS 5 Tor. 2-0 W 5
10/16/1983 WS 5 Bal. 5-0 L 5
10/11/1983 WS 1 Bal. 2-1 W 5
10/4/1983 NLCS 1 L.A. 1-0 W 5
10/8/1915 WS 1 Bos. 3-1 W 5

The Phils said they needed to execute their pitches better against him.

But Ross reached down and stroked a low-and-away fastball into left field for a single to score Edgar Renteria to make it 1-0. Ross entered the game 9-for-30 with one double, four home runs and six RBIs in his career against Hamels. He continued his success in Game 3.

"I got a pitch that probably wasn't a very good pitch to hit, but ended up getting some good wood on it," Ross said. "Luckily, I got enough, and it went out in the outfield and we pushed one across."

"He's definitely hot," Hamels said. "He's been battling and hitting pitches that most normal people can't hit at this time. I felt like it was exactly where Chooch put his glove, and that's what I was trying to hit. And unfortunately, I don't know too many guys that can lift that up over a third baseman. Most guys normally hit it into the ground."

Aubrey Huff followed with a single to right to score Pat Burrell to make it 2-0.

A two-run lead looked like a 10-run lead because Cain, who had never defeated the Phillies in the regular season, looked better than Hamels as the Phils continued to squander scoring opportunities. They stranded runners on first and second in both the third and fourth innings and went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position.

"Way too late, brother," said Victorino, asked if the Phillies can figure out what's plaguing the offense. "Way too late. I can't sit here and worry about it. We're too good. We just need to find a way to get it going again."

2-1 lead in NLCS play
With the Giants' victory in Game 3, an NLCS stands at 2-1 for the 20th time since it became a best-of-seven series in 1985. Fifteen of the previous 19 teams went on to win its NLCS.
Year Team up 2-1 Opponent Final
2010 Giants Phillies
2009 Phillies Dodgers 4-1
2008 Phillies Dodgers 4-1
2006 Cardinals Mets 4-3
2005 Astros Cardinals 4-3
2004 Cardinals Astros 4-3
2003 Cubs Marlins 4-3
2002 Giants Cardinals 4-1
2001 D-backs Braves 4-1
2000 Mets Cardinals 4-1
1997 Marlins Braves 4-2
1996 Cardinals Braves 4-3
1993 Braves Phillies 4-2
1992 Braves Pirates 4-3
1991 Braves Pirates 4-3
1990 Reds Pirates 4-2
1989 Giants Cubs 4-1
1988 Mets Dodgers 4-3
1987 Cardinals Giants 4-3
1986 Mets Astros 4-2
Winners of the NLCS listed in bold.

When the Giants took a 3-0 lead in the fifth, it looked like a 15-run lead. The Giants had a runner on second with two outs when Freddy Sanchez hit a sinking line drive to Chase Utley. Utley couldn't figure out how to play the ball: charge in and catch it on the fly or back up and play it off the bounce.

Utley backed up, the ball hopped off his body and into center field to allow the runner to score.

"At first, I thought I was going to be able to catch it, and when I realized I wasn't, I tried to keep it in front of me," he said. "It shot off in a hurry to the outfield."

Utley initially was charged with an error, but it was later changed to a single.

Hit or error, it was the final dagger in the Phillies' chances.

But the Phils left the clubhouse relatively upbeat. If Blanton pitches like they hope and the offense shows up, they can even the series at 2-2, with Halladay facing Tim Lincecum in Game 5 on Thursday. But the offense must do its job. The Phillies have hit just .194 in the series. They have just seven hits and one extra-base hit in 44 at-bats with runners in scoring position in the postseason.

"Our offense is going to have to turn up a notch," Hamels said.

The offense knows this.

"Each game has its own ways of working out," Jimmy Rollins said. "Put yesterday behind you. Go out there tomorrow. You have a new set of problems tomorrow. A new pitcher. New circumstances. Difference chances. Just make sure to take advantage of them when you do get them."

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

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