It seems the sky is falling on the Philadelphia Phillies.
Sitting in the basement of the National League East with a 14-18 record, the five-time defending division champions needed a pep talk from manager Charlie Manuel and a few players after getting swept in three games by the rival New York Mets. Even general manager Ruben Amaro weighed in with his disappointment of the roster he constructed.
Whether the message hit home remains to be seen, but the Phillies will get back to work tonight in the opener of a three-game series versus the San Diego Padres at Citizens Bank Park.
The Phillies blew leads in all three matchups with the Mets, who completed the sweep thanks to a 10-6 victory on Wednesday. Cliff Lee returned to Philadelphia's rotation after a stint on the disabled list because of a strained left oblique and held New York to a pair of runs in six innings for the no-decision. Then the worst bullpen in baseball allowed eight runs the rest of the way with Kyle Kendrick taking the loss for surrendering five runs in the seventh inning.
Phillies rookie second baseman Freddy Galvis finished 3-for-4 with three RBI and a run scored, while Lee, Hunter Pence and Laynce Nix each drove in a run for the Phillies, who have lost five of their last six games and opened an eight-game homestand with three straight defeats.
"Everybody has to do their part," Amaro said on the team's website. "We're all in this thing together. There are small tweaks we can do, but right now, we have to get the guys on the field right now to play better. Sometimes the onus is on the players. Sometimes the onus is on the manager. Sometimes the onus is on the GM. We all take part in it. We're all part of the wins and losses."
Philadelphia's bullpen has a 7.92 earned run average in the past 17 games and Chad Qualls adds to that mess with an 8.31 ERA in his previous six games. The Phillies hope young righty Vance Worley can last at least seven innings before Manuel opts to use his beleaguered bullpen when he takes the mound Friday. Worley was roughed up in a his last start -- a 7-1 loss at Washington on Saturday -- and allowed five runs on 11 hits in six innings. He fell to 2-2 in six starts and raised his ERA from 1.97 to 2.84.
Worley, though, defeated the last-place Padres back on April 19 at Petco Park with seven scoreless innings and a career-high 11 strikeouts in a 2-0 victory. It was his first appearance against San Diego.
San Diego will start a five-game road trip against the Phillies and Nationals, and dropped the finale of a three-game series versus Colorado with a 6-2 setback on Wednesday. The Padres were aiming for a three-game sweep, but a four-run sixth inning by the Rockies changed all that.
Anthony Bass earned the start for San Diego and fell to 1-4 after he was reached for five runs -- one earned -- and nine hits over 5 2/3 innings. Yonder Alonso and Jesus Guzman provided the offense with two hits and an RBI apiece for the Padres, losers in seven of the past 11 games.
"[Bass] was hanging in there, their guy was hanging in there too," said Padres manager Bud Black. "We opened the door for them, [Carlos] Gonzalez got the big double and that kind of took the wind out of Anthony's sails."
Since winning his 2012 debut against the Los Angeles Dodgers on April 8, Padres left-hander Clayton Richard is 0-4 in five subsequent starts and gets the nod tonight in the City of Brotherly Love. Richard is coming off Saturday's 2-1 loss to Miami in which he allowed three runs and nine hits with seven K's over seven innings. The loss dropped him to 1-4 in six starts to go along with a 4.89 earned run average.
Richard has allowed at least three runs in four appearances this season and is 0-2 in three road outings. He will try to change that against a Phillies ballclub he owns an 0-2 mark and a 2.40 ERA against in two career starts.
The Padres and Phillies split a four-game set from April 19-22 this season out west, but Philadelphia has won 12 of the past 15 meetings in the series.