WASHINGTON - The week in Washington began with the home team getting their franchise cornerstone, Ryan Zimmerman, back in the lineup and with the visiting team fading fast in the National League standings.
A young, pitching-heavy Nationals team built to return to the playoffs - and eventually bring its city a World Series trophy - gained steam as the week continued. The Phillies, meanwhile, have gone from looking like a team that can’t score on a nightly basis to a team that doesn’t know how to win.
Former Phillie Jayson Werth hit a go-ahead single off Kyle Kendrick in the fifth inning and Adam LaRoche followed with a booming home run as Washington completed a three-game sweep of the Phillies with a 4-2 win on Thursday afternoon.
The loss extended the Phillies season-long losing streak to six games. The Phillies will take the field on Cincinnati today having gone a full week without a win.
"It’s not good," Kendrick said. "We’re trying to win games, and not doing it. We’ve got to find a way to start winning."
With more than a month before the All-Star break and eight weeks before the trade deadline, the Phillies season is on the verge of spiraling out of control.
"It’s getting out of control now," Jimmy Rollins said. "We have a chance to go out and change that tomorrow. … We just have to find a way to do it."
Following Thursday’s defeat, the Phillies (24-34) are 10 games under .500. It marks the first time the Phillies have been 10 games under before the end of the first week of June since 2002.
The 2002 Phillies managed to finish the season with 80 wins. The 2014 Phillies have lost 20 of the 29 games since May 4.
Only three teams in baseball - the Houston Astros, Arizona Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay Rays - had more losses than the Phillies when they boarded a charter plane out of Washington on Thursday.
"It’s not concerning - it’s a little more than that," Rollins said. "You just have to find it."
But it’s wondering if there’s anything to find. The Phillies haven’t won back-to-back games in more than two weeks; they have won three in a row only twice and haven’t had a winning record since April.
"Not until it happens," Rollins said when asked if he’s seen any encouraging signs. "Then, everyone starts feeling better when those W’s start going up. We haven’t had those W’s yet. Everyone is just looking in the mirror, looking around, trying to find that spark. It hasn’t happened yet."
Thursday’s matinee at Nationals Park marked the 10th time in this 29 games that the Phillies had scored two runs or fewer. Washington righthander Doug Fister held the Phillies to four hits over seven innings; he struck out five without walking a batter.
Between the third and sixth innings, eleven straight Phillies hitters stepped into the batter’s box and failed to get a hit off Fister. John Mayberry Jr. ended that run with a solo home run to lead off the seventh, his second home run in as many games.
But the Phillies were trailing 4-1 at the time of Mayberry’s home run.
Kendrick, who ended a personal 10-game losing streak two starts earlier, couldn't tame the Nats bats. After the Phillies gave him a 1-0 lead before he took the mound - thanks to a Ben Revere double and a Chase Utley single - Kendrick gave the run back.
It was the 12th first-inning run Kendrick had allowed in 12 starts this season. Kendrick has given up a first inning run in six of his last seven starts.
With two outs in the first, Kendrick walked Adam LaRoche and then gave up a run-scoring single to Ryan Zimmerman to lose his 1-0 lead.
"Broken bat (hit) found a hole," Kendrick said in a curt postgame interview.
Thursday’s start in Washington marked the third consecutive start on the road in which Kendrick was given a lead before he took the mound only to give it back in his first inning.
"There’s something about having a shutdown inning right off the bat," Sandberg said. "But K.K. has had problems with that in numerous starts, as far as putting zeroes up right away."
Kendrick was charged with four runs on six hits in seven innings. He walked a season-high four batters.
After taking a 3.58 ERA into his seventh start of the season, Kendrick has a 5.02 ERA in his last six games.
"Wasn’t good enough," Kendrick said of his latest dud.
They were three words you could certainly use to summarize nearly every Phillies game over the last month, really. A series that began with a closed-door meeting with the manager ended with another deflating defeat.
"Turn the page," Rollins said of Sandberg’s words from the meeting two days earlier "That was his theme - turn the page in this series. Let’s go win some games. If you aren’t on board with that, you are in the wrong clubhouse."