Manuel keeping his eye on struggling 'pen

Manuel keeping his eye on struggling 'pen

Manuel keeping his eye on struggling 'pen
PHILADELPHIA -- Charlie Manuel admitted the Phillies' bullpen is the No. 1 thing he's got his eye on right now. And for good reason.

Though its performance in Philadelphia's series win against San Diego might have been encouraging, the bullpen's 5.23 ERA is still the worst in the National League.

Entering Monday, Phillies relievers were 2-5 with five blown saves and a 7.01 ERA in their last 20 appearances dating back to April 21, despite allowing just one run on four hits this past weekend. Antonio Bastardo has been getting better, Manuel said, but added the lefty still needs more work. In seven May appearances, Bastardo has allowed just one hit in seven scoreless innings, striking out five and walking three. Chad Qualls, who had struggled, turned in two scoreless innings of work against the Padres.

Jose Contreras, who had right elbow surgery last September, has labored all season. The 40-year-old right-hander has an ERA of 9.00.

"We still think we can get him right," Manuel said.

Manuel said Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon was available to pitch Monday. He appeared to grab his back while slipping off the mound on Sunday.

In Monday's 5-1 win over the Astros, Bastardo, Qualls and Papelbon teamed to throw two shutout innings. Bastardo struck out two in the eighth before giving way to Qualls and Papelbon, who struck out the side in the ninth.