It's the pitching, stupid

Phillies starting pitchers have a 5.77 ERA in 11 starts in June. (Michael Bryant/Staff Photographer)

MINNEAPOLIS — A season ago, the Phillies were 30-47 when they scored three or fewer runs. That means they won 39 percent of the time when the offense was anemic. Only five teams in the last 30 years had a better winning percentage and it was a large reason why the Phillies won a franchise-record 102 games in 2011.

Those Phillies had a 3.02 ERA, the lowest for any team since the 1989 Dodgers, who had a 2.95 mark. They allowed 3.27 runs per game in 2011, the franchise's lowest clip since 1917.

They are allowing 4.33 runs per game in 2012 and have a team ERA of 4.00. Both figures are worse than the league average. And when scoring three runs or fewer, the Phillies are 4-23 (.148), a far cry from the clip established a season ago.

In 11 June games, Phillies starters have a 5.77 ERA.

"I think that's partly because you do see Roy [Halladay] down," Charlie Manuel said. "That definitely has something to do with it. But the other thing is we're just not getting it done."

Exactly. It's not because of one man. Kyle Kendrick has floundered. But so too has Joe Blanton, Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee. Vance Worley hasn't pitched deep into a game in his return from injury.

The days of Four Aces seem like forever ago.

The bullpen is in shambles. A payrolll of $178 million bought the Phillies this on Tuesday: Their five pitchers were Kyle Kendrick; three minor leaguers in Joe Savery, B.J. Rosenberg, Jake Diekman; and Chad Qualls, who was signed late in the winter off the scrap heap.

So what to do? Not much. The Phillies have called up just about every possible arm. Mike Stutes and David Herndon are far away from a return — if there even is one.

Tyler Cloyd has pitched well at triple-A Lehigh Valley, but there are no guarantees he carries his pinpoint control to the majors. Even if the Phillies were to move him into the rotation and send Kendrick to relieve a depleted bullpen, it's difficult to say an upgrade has been made.

"If we score seven runs," Manuel said, "we can win some games."

It'll have to be with the current crop of pitchers showing improvement.

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