PITTSBURGH -- If the Phillies are going to make a move to get back in the playoff chase, they have to do it soon.
Entering play on Wednesday, the Phils trailed Atlanta in the National League East by 9 1/2 games and trailed St. Louis and Cincinnati in the NL Wild Card standings by eight games.
"The question to me is whether we are capable of running off a winning streak," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "I've said it all year long, the inconsistent part of our club … are we capable? Can we put together 12 out of 16 [wins]? It's not impossible, but at the same time, I would question that.
"We're going to have to play like [heck]. We have to play right, fundamentally well. We have to hit, we have to pitch and catch the ball. But I've been saying that two years now, and I'm still saying the same thing."
The Phillies are in the midst of a three-game series with the NL Central-leading Pirates. Then they have a stretch of games leading up to the All-Star break largely against teams in front of them in the NL East: Three games with Atlanta, four with Washington and then three games with the Chicago White Sox prior to the three day All-Star break.
That stretch of games will probably determine whether the Phils will be sellers or buyers at the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.
"We can't let ourselves get too far behind," Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "It's just too much of a haul. It's at the point where we've got to start making some hay.
"What's been disappointing for us this year is the fact that we generally have had most of our guys on the field for most of the time. Not the whole time, we lost Chase Utley and we lost Roy Halladay, but we felt like we'd be playing a little better baseball, overall, than we have. We haven't, and that happens.
"Every single day it's an assessment of what's best for the club, what might be best for the club. Right now, we're putting ourselves in a position to be prepared for anything. Whether we have to go right, left or up or down, and we kind of have to be prepared for everything."
George Von Benko is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.