Padres-Phillies Preview

The Philadelphia Phillies haven’t been under .500 this late in

the season since 2007, when they went on to win their first of five

consecutive NL East titles.

Though there’s plenty of time to recover, the Phillies still are

concerned with their uninspired play to begin 2012.

After being swept for the first time this season, Philadelphia

looks to bounce back when its hosts the opener of a three-game set

against the San Diego Padres on Friday night.

The Phillies’ bullpen struggled in a 10-6 loss to New York on

Wednesday, allowing eight runs over the final three innings. The

team’s relievers have the worst ERA in the majors at 5.47.

Philadelphia (14-18) was outscored 22-12 during the three-game

sweep.

“We have to wake up and play better,” manager Charlie Manuel

said. “We don’t like what we’ve been doing. If we want to win, and

be able to go where we want to go, we better start playing

better.”

Philadelphia has left 36 men on base over its last four

games.

“Things that we do need to change,” Manuel said. “We have to

execute better.”

The Phillies have played without injured stars Ryan Howard and

Chase Utley to this point, and the rest of the lineup has done

little to help make up for their absences.

Jimmy Rollins is hitting .230 with five extra-base hits in 126

at-bats.

“There definitely needs to be a change in intensity,” Rollins

said. “That comes with relaxing. When you win, everybody

relaxes.”

Vance Worley (2-2, 2.84 ERA) will attempt to help lighten the

mood with another solid performance against San Diego.

Worley, though, is coming off his worst outing of the season

after allowing five runs and 11 hits in six innings of a 7-1 loss

to Washington on Saturday.

The right-hander was much better when he pitched seven stellar

innings while striking out a career-high 11 in a 2-0 win over the

Padres on April 19.

It marked the opener of a four-game set the teams split. Before

winning the final two games of the series, San Diego had lost 12 of

the previous 13 meetings.

The Padres (11-21) fell 6-2 at home to Colorado on Wednesday

after winning the first two games of the series. Their .220 batting

average ranks last in the NL, and they’ve scored two runs or less

15 times.

The lack of offense hasn’t done much to help the pitching staff,

including Friday’s starter Clayton Richard (1-4, 4.89), who will

look to end a four-start losing streak.

Richard had a decent performance in his last outing, giving up

three runs and striking out a season-high seven in seven innings of

a 4-1 loss to Miami on Saturday.

“Well pitched by Clayton. He probably deserved better,” manager

Bud Black told the team’s official website.

The left-hander has received only two runs of support in 20 1-3

innings in his last three starts, and it may not get any better if

his history against the Phillies comes into play.

Richard has lost both of his career starts versus Philadelphia

despite a 2.40 ERA, receiving no run support in 15 innings.

The Phillies have won seven of the last 10 meetings at Citizens

Bank Park.