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After loss, Manuel upset with Phils' effort

After loss, Manuel upset with Phils' effort

PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies manager Charlie Manuel held a rare team meeting after Sunday's 12-3 loss to the Marlins at Citizens Bank Park.

His squad has lost eight of its past 11 games, scoring just 32 runs (2.91 per game) while allowing 51 (4.63 per game) over that span. The Phillies, the offensive juggernauts of the National League, have scored three runs or fewer in seven of their past eight.

And instead of virtually ending Florida's division hopes, Philadelphia allowed it to climb back into the thick of the National League East race. With the three-game sweep, the Marlins -- who were swept by the lowly Nationals before coming to Philadelphia -- are just four games back.

But that's not what riled up Manuel.

"Today's game got me a little bit," Manuel said. "I'll be very honest with you. Today's game, how we played, things that happened in the game, how we went about it and things. It was not about how we played yesterday or nothing like that, and not because we lost three games in a row."

Manuel did not divulge what, exactly, he told his players during his roughly 20-minute meeting.

"Whatever I said is my business," Manuel said. "I hope my message was sent."

It is clear, however, that things unraveled for the Phils in the top of the seventh after Shane Victorino was ejected, from his center-field position, by home-plate umpire Ed Rapuano. Victorino threw up his arms in disbelief -- multiple times, according to Rapuano -- after Rapuano called a ball on Rodrigo Lopez's 0-2 pitch to Marlins third baseman Wes Helms.

Lopez would eventually retire Helms, but he could not escape the inning, allowing six earned runs while just retiring one other batter. Jayson Werth, who replaced Victorino, allowed a rolling bases-loaded single to squirt through his legs for a two-base error, enabling all three runners to score. Werth also made a poor throw for another error later in the seventh.

Struggling closer Brad Lidge, brought in for some work with an off-day Monday, labored again, allowing three runs in the ninth. And the Phillies could not muster much of anything at the plate, other than a two-run home run from Pedro Feliz once the game was already out of reach.

"I was upset kind of with how he played today," Manuel said. "I felt like we lost our composure and we did some things that we usually don't do, and we didn't play like we usually play. ... We're not the team that you saw on the field today. I think that we definitely can be much better than that. We are better than that."

Said starter Jamie Moyer, a veteran of 23 big league seasons: "I think sometimes [a team meeting is] good. If he's got something on his mind, he has every right to speak his piece. He's our manager, and he's our leader. More power to him."

Moyer was saddled with his ninth loss. He was not hit hard. He was just hit often.

The 46-year-old left-hander allowed three runs (two earned) on 11 hits -- all singles -- over five-plus innings on Sunday. The Marlins, who usually struggle against Moyer, got to him in the fifth. With one out, Emilio Bonifacio placed a bunt in front of the plate, which catcher Paul Bako could not grab. After the error, Hanley Ramirez lined a single to center, the only hard-hit ball of the inning. Jorge Cantu hit a broken-bat RBI bloop single that dropped just behind Jimmy Rollins. Wes Helms followed with a flare that fell in shallow center for another run. Then Cody Ross delivered another weak single, this time barely clearing an outstretched Pedro Feliz to score the third run of the inning.

"Tomorrow, they're all line drives," Moyer said. "It's happened before. It can be quite frustrating. It tells me that I made a lot of pretty good pitches today, but they still hit the ball and put the ball in play and bunched their hits together."

Moyer's future is uncertain. He has a team-leading 10 wins but also a 5.47 ERA, third highest among Major League qualifiers. So Moyer could potentially be the odd man out -- or the man most skipped -- as the Phillies try to juggle six starters. The club has not announced its rotation plans. Moyer insists that he is unconcerned.

"When I need to be addressed or spoken to, I'm sure I'll be spoken to or I'll be told what's going on," the veteran lefty said. "We don't make the decisions here. We just work here."

The biggest concern for Philadelphia is the heart of its lineup. Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez combined to go 1-for-10 on Sunday. Howard struck out looking with two on and two outs in the sixth. The close full-count fastball led, in part, to Victorino's pent-up anger and ejection in the next inning.

Over their past nine games, Utley, Howard and Ibanez are 20-for-99 (.202) with no homers, four RBIs and six extra-base hits. Those numbers would look even worse if not for Howard's four-hit night Saturday.

But the Phillies will try forget that -- along with almost everything that happened this weekend -- heading into a three-game series with the Cubs in Chicago on Tuesday. Manuel hopes that his words, at least, will stick.

"We have to shake this series off," Victorino said. "We weren't ourselves this weekend. ... But we're still four games up. I'm not worried about it right now. There's no state of panic here. It was just unfortunate that we couldn't have made it a 10-game lead and really walked away with it.

"But that's the Phillies' way of doing it: Let everybody get close and put our backs against the wall and say, 'OK, it's time to play.' I don't know why it happens that way, but it just seems to happen that way for us."

David Gurian-Peck is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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