The club returned home after a successful 10-game road trip through San Diego, Los Angeles and New York to have one of the worst homestands in franchise history. Raul Ibanez, Scott Eyre and Clay Condrey joined Brett Myers and Brad Lidge on the 15-day disabled list during or just after the 1-8 homestand against Boston, Toronto and Baltimore. Ryan Howard went to the hospital. Twice. The Phillies couldn't come up with a big hit. The pitching struggled. Many made mental errors and physical errors.
Almost everything that could have gone wrong went wrong.
The Phillies arrived at Tropicana Field on Tuesday in desperate need of a victory, and they wasted no time, scoring six runs in the first inning on their way to a 10-1 victory over the Rays in a rematch of the 2008 World Series.
The win snapped a six-game losing streak and gave Philadelphia a 2 1/2 game lead over New York in the National League East.
"It's nice to start a road trip with a win," winning pitcher Jamie Moyer said. "It's going to be a long road trip for us, coming off a not-particularly good homestand."
That is an understatement. The Phillies, who are 24-9 on the road and 13-22 at home, hit .235 and scored 38 runs during the homestand. The pitching staff had a 5.97 ERA, and the defense committed eight errors after committing just 19 errors in the first 58 games.
Despite all that, Jimmy Rollins reached second base on a throwing error from Rays third baseman Evan Longoria to start the game. Shane Victorino followed with a walk. Chase Utley then stroked a double to left-center field off Rays left-hander David Price to score Rollins and Victorino. Ryan Howard, who was back in the lineup after not starting the previous two games because of a sinus infection, followed with a double to left-center field to score Utley.
"It gives us a four-hole hitter who hits 48 to 60 home runs a year," said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel when asked what it means to have Howard back in the lineup. "That's what it gives us. I don't know where we'd go to replace him."
Jayson Werth then singled, and two batters later John Mayberry hit a three-run home run to left field to give Philadelphia a 6-0 lead.
"We just tried to work him," Howard said of Price. "It started with the catalysts. Jimmy got on. Shane got on. Chase and I got some pretty good pitches to hit, and we were able to take advantage of them."
Moyer certainly did his job. He allowed just one run on five while allowing three walks and striking out four in six innings to pick up the 251st win of his career, which ties him for 43rd place on baseball's all-time list with Bob Gibson.
"You're looking at Jamie, who's been around, throwing 80 mph, carving us up," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "And then you've got the young left-hander who's throwing 93 to 94 [mph] and having a hard time. Baseball's a beautiful game."
"You know what you've got going into the game [against Moyer]," Longoria said. "He throws it just a little bit below hitting speed, and that's just something you have to plan for. I think he was pretty much vintage Jamie Moyer tonight. He made the pitches when he needed to. And he just kept us off-balance."
Utley hit a two-run home run in the fourth inning off Price to help the Phillies to a 10-0 lead.
"That's the most runs we've scored in a while," Manuel said. "It seems like seven or eight doesn't get it done. Maybe we've got to get 10 or 11 or something while we can. I saw us get a big lead, and I saw our pitching hold them."
But as much as Manuel enjoyed the fact that he could leave the ballpark for the first time since June 14 without reliving the game in his head, he already had started to think about Wednesday's game.
"Tomorrow is a whole new day," Manuel said. "Tonight is great and we've got a little room to celebrate, but when we leave here, we should be thinking about tomorrow's game. This one is gone. That's what works for us."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.