PHILADELPHIA -- This is no time to panic. "No, no, you don't panic," Greg Dobbs said. "Panic is a word not spoken. If you're panicking, you're in the wrong business." Though not panicking, the Phillies might be pressing after a 7-3 loss Wednesday to Florida sent them further from the postseason. Philadelphia sits four games behind the Brewers in the Wild Card race, and 3 1/2 games behind New York in the National League East.
Facing the Marlins' most effective pitcher in righty Ricky Nolasco, the Phillies were trying to recover from Tuesday's 10-8 loss. They took a 1-0 lead on Ryan Howard's 42nd home run of the season, but Brett Myers surrendered a two-run homer to Luis Gonzalez in the third. Myers, who brought into the game a 1.55 ERA in his previous nine starts, allowed a third run in the fourth when Nolasco stroked a two-out single. Philadelphia tied the game at 3 in the fifth, and the score remained tied until the eighth. Though at 104 pitches, Myers convinced manager Charlie Manuel to let him work the eighth inning. Thirteen pitches later, he left with runners on first and third, after singles to Gonzalez and Mike Jacobs sandwiched around an out. Chad Durbin relieved and surrendered a ground-rule double to Josh Willingham, just out of Greg Dobbs' reach. A fan touched the ball down the left-field line, forcing pinch-runner Robert Andino back to third. Lefty Dallas McPherson was intentionally walked to load the bases, and Paul Lo Duca grounded into an inning-ending double play. Florida added two key runs in the ninth off Durbin and J.C. Romero. The eighth inning, or getting the ball to Brad Lidge, continued to haunt the Phillies. "We've had a lot of trouble here the last two weeks, at least, in the eighth inning," Manuel said. "I don't know exactly what the numbers are, but we've been giving up some runs in the eighth." If tensions are mounting, they simmered in the ninth, when Chris Coste and Romero disagreed on how to pitch Dan Uggla. After Romero fell behind 3-0 with runners on second and third and two outs, Coste and Romero appeared to disagree on pitch selection and location. The result was a fastball over the plate that Uggla delivered for a two-run double. The two exchanged words on the mound and in the dugout, after the inning. Romero didn't elaborate after the game, calling it a "family matter." Coste wasn't available. That pitch didn't lose the game for Philadelphia. The Phillies fell behind on Willingham's hit, and they didn't collect one of their own after Jayson Werth's game-tying RBI single in the fifth. Four games back on two fronts. "We can catch that up," Manuel said. "At the same time, it's not easy. We'll just go out there and play, keep fighting and see what happens. You never know. This game's funny as heck, you never know when you can catch fire and take off. Who knows? Tomorrow, we might come out and beat Milwaukee and take off and start winning and put together a big streak." The Phillies have reached the point where they need one. They found a way last season, when they galloped to a 13-4 finish to steal the NL East from a Mets team that squandered a seven-game lead with 17 games to play. Now, they sit 3 1/2 back with 16 to play. In 2007, the Phillies entered September hot. The 2008 edition appears to be struggling, at least in Manuel's eyes. "The difference is, last year we were hot," Manuel said. "We were consistent. We could score more runs. And also, it seemed like we had enough pitching to get through. But we were hot. And we were playing good. We were very energetic and full of life. Our team this year is struggling to pitch and score runs. That's tough. At the same time, I've seen us bounce back. We'll come back tomorrow and see what happens." "We have a resilient club," added Chase Utley. "This series isn't going to get us down. But we have to continue to fight and battle all the way to the last game."
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.