Maybe this is what the Phillies are: a team that sends its fans filing out of Citizens Bank Park moaning about the futility of its offense, griping about the couple of hours of boredom they endured, stewing in the same frustration that grips manager Charlie Manuel when his impatient lineup helps make another opposing pitcher look like Walter Johnson.
Maybe it's time for those fans to come to terms with the reality that the Phillies are going to be all about pitching and defense.
Or they can do this: They can check the standings each day, find the team is in first place, and tell themselves all is right in their imperfect world.
The anemia that's stricken the Phillies much of the season was apparent in their 4-1 loss to the Oakland Athletics on Saturday night at Citizens Bank Park. Trevor Cahill held them to four hits. A's closer Andrew Bailey, a graduate of Paul VI High in Haddon Township, earned the save.
Bailey got the chance to create a fond memory of his first time pitching near his hometown since he became a big-leaguer. The 27-year-old righthander got Chase Utley on a grounder to first to end the eighth.
He got into trouble in the ninth when Shane Victorino doubled and Raul Ibanez walked with one out, bringing Domonic Brown to the plate as the tying run. But Bailey picked up his fifth save in his last five chances by getting Brown on a double play to end the game.
In the first two games of the series, the Phillies scored two runs and collected eight hits. They have scored three runs in the last three games.
"They've got good pitching," Manuel said after an eight-game home winning streak ended. "At the same time, we've had trouble scoring runs."
Cole Hamels, who has been every bit the equal of Roy Halladay, was more of a battler than a dominator as he sought his 10th win. The lefthander pitched well, but holding the A's to two runs over eight innings wasn't good enough as the Phillies scored less than four runs for the 41st time this season.
Reliever Michael Stutes was reminded that life in The Show does have its down times. The hard-throwing rookie righthander, who had wins in each of his three previous appearances and was rapidly rising in popularity with fans because of his fearless approach, gave up two runs in the ninth inning. These days, a three-run deficit for the Phillies may as well be 10.
When Mark Ellis blooped a single over a drawn-in infield for the A's third run, it was the second time Stutes had given up a hit with a runner in scoring position this season. He was 1 for 13.
Stutes wasn't the only Phillies rookie to have a rough time. Brown got his first sampling of the boobirds when he lollygagged down the first-base line on a grounder in the fifth inning. To his credit, Brown owned up to his mistake and vowed it would never happen again.
"I've got to run those balls out," said Brown, who was waiting to get called into Manuel's office. "On that particular time, the hustle wasn't there, and the fans are going to get on you here in Philly - and I know that. Charlie and I are going to talk in a minute, but he knows I know better than that. Things happen. I'm not perfect, and it's not going to happen again. I can hustle better than that."
The Phillies raised a bit of a fuss in the eighth when Ross Gload, pinch-hitting for Hamels, doubled into the left-center gap. It was the Phils' first extra-base hit in the opening 151/3 innings of this three-game interleague series. Michael Martinez, pinch-running for Gload, took third on a wild pitch by Cahill, who had struck out Jimmy Rollins. Cahill's solid night was finished after he walked Placido Polanco.
That gave Bailey his chance.
Carlos Ruiz, who missed Friday's game because of dental surgery, had given Hamels an early edge when he singled home Victorino in the second.
Contact staff writer Ray Parrillo at 215-854-2743 or email@example.com.