"We've been getting outplayed by second-division teams," Manuel said following Thursday's 8-7 loss to the Nationals at Nationals Park. "Our guys, especially the guys who were on our team the last couple of years, know exactly what we've got to do. They know exactly how to get it.
"We're playing right to the beat of basically who we're playing. We're just playing right with them. That's how we played Pittsburgh. That's how we played Houston. That's how we played these guys. We were fortunate to beat [the Nationals] two out of three. We don't put anybody away."
Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins mostly felt the same way.
"In a lot of ways, I agree," Rollins said. "There's no doubt about it. But there are definitely times that we haven't played down to our level of competition. ... But it's better to go on a bad stretch, I guess, against bad teams than against good teams. You do it against good teams, you feel like, man, maybe we're not good enough. Against bad teams, it's like, we're just bad."
The Phillies open a three-game series Tuesday night against the Nationals at Citizens Bank Park. Sweeping is never easy, but the Phillies would love to do just that to the team with the worst record in Major League Baseball before beginning a three-city, 10-game road through Atlanta, Miami and Milwaukee.
Phillies right-hander Cliff Lee pitches in the series opener Tuesday. Right-hander Joe Blanton (9-7, 4.11 ERA) pitches Wednesday and left-hander Cole Hamels (9-9, 4.21) pitches in the series finale Thursday.
PHI: LHP Cliff Lee (13-11, 3.13 ERA)
Lee went 5-0 with a 0.68 ERA in his first five starts with the Phillies, but is 1-2 with a 9.60 ERA in his previous three. He allowed 10 hits, five runs, four earned runs and struck out four in seven-plus innings Wednesday in a victory over the Nationals at Nationals Park. Lee suffered some bad luck in that game. A missed double play cost him a run in the seventh, and an error cost him a run in the eighth. Regardless, the Phillies are hoping Lee gets back on track against the same team that got 10 hits against him last week.
Mock's last start came against the Phillies. The right-hander took a no-decision after holding them four runs on six hits over five innings while striking out four and walking three. Mock is looking to limit his walks this time out by being more aggressive in the strike zone. In eight of his past 10 starts, Mock has thrown five or more innings. Tidbits
Right-hander Clay Condrey, who has not pitched since July because of a strained left oblique, is scheduled to make a rehab appearance Monday with Class A Lakewood, who are in the South Atlantic League playoffs. ... Shane Victorino hit his 10th home run of the season in Game 1 of Sunday's doubleheader against the Mets. He is the first player in the Majors this season to reach double-digits in doubles, triples, home runs and stolen bases. ... Chase Utley has scored 100 runs in four consecutive seasons. Tickets
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Wednesday: Phillies (Joe Blanton (9-7, 4.11) vs. Nationals (TBD), 7:05 p.m. ET
Thursday: Phillies (Cole Hamels, 9-9, 4.21) vs. Nationals (J.D. Martin, 4-4, 4.29), 7:05 p.m. ET
Friday: Phillies (TBD) at Braves (Tim Hudson, 1-0, 3.63), 7:30 p.m. ET
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.