The Phillies have fallen out of first place in the National League East with 41 games to play in the 2008 season.
Fortunately, just four of those remaining 41 games are against the Dodgers.
But the Phillies also have six more games against the Marlins, five more games against the Mets, four more games against the Cubs and four more games against the Brewers. That's 23 games against teams with legitimate postseason aspirations. That leaves 18 games against the Nationals (nine games), Braves (six games) and Padres (three games).
Charlie Manuel considers this a great test for the 25 men in the clubhouse.
"If you want to know the truth, I think it's a good test for our team," he said. "If you're down and you lay down, if you fall out of it or you get beat, that goes to show what kind of team you are. If you stay in the hunt and you battle it out and we win, I think that tells us what kind of team we are, too. There's two ways to look at it. You know what? If we get down and we don't come back, we're not champions and we're not men."
The Phillies lost last night to the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium, 3-1. It's the first time the Dodgers have swept the Phillies in a four-game series at Dodger Stadium since 1962. The Dodgers swept the Phillies that year in a pair of doubleheaders: 5-1 and 4-0 on July 2 and 16-1 and 7-3 on July 4.
"We're going to win some more," Manuel said. "We've got to keep our cool, though. As long as we do that and as long as we come to the ballpark with the idea of winning that game on that day and our pitchers give us performances like that, we're definitely going to win some games. We've got 41 left. You play them all the same. We need to win a game and get going and see if can't run off four or five or six in a row or something. We're alright. We're a game back. If you would have asked me, if I would take a game back with 41 to play I would have said yes. There's no sense in us getting all bent out of shape because we've been close all year. It's going to be close for the next six weeks."
Do the players see this drop out of first as a test like Manuel?
"He's the manager," Brett Myers said. "He knows us better than we know ourselves because he watches the game every day. It's tough. We're going out there and we're busting our rear ends. It's not like we're trying to lose. We just got outpitched, outplayed. Everything. You don't get swept in a series if the other team doesn't just outplay you."
Myers allowed five hits and three runs in seven innings. He struck out eight, but took the loss. He is 2-1 with a 2.48 ERA in five starts since his return to the rotation.
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