After a 4-hour, 27-minute rain delay and a devastating loss, the Philadelphia Phillies have gone from wild-card contender to teetering on the brink of elimination.
The Phillies try to keep their postseason hopes alive when they open their final regular-season series against the Florida Marlins on Friday at Dolphin Stadium.
Philadelphia (83-76) fell 1 1/2 games behind Los Angeles in the wild-card race after the Dodgers posted a 19-11 win over Colorado on Thursday afternoon.
The Phillies needed a win to keep pace, but managed only five hits after the long delay in a 3-1 loss to Washington, pushing them two games back with three to play.
The game ended at 2:07 a.m. EDT and came about 26 hours after the Phillies won 8-7 over the Nationals in a 14-inning contest that lasted nearly 5 hours.
“Anything can happen. We’ve just got to keep going out and playing,” Phillies left fielder Pat Burrell said. “Florida’s a good team, but we’ve got to dig down deep. It’s that time.”
While the exhausted Phillies play this series, the Dodgers visit archrival San Francisco for three games starting Friday night. Last season, Philadelphia won its final four games, but finished one game out of the wild card, which went to eventual NL pennant winner Houston.
Philadelphia turns to 20-year veteran Jamie Moyer (4-2, 4.27 ERA) in the opener.
Moyer is looking to win his third consecutive outing—and get off to a better start than when he last faced Florida on Sunday. In a 10-7 win, he gave up five runs and eight hits in six innings—including four runs and five extra-base hits in the first.
The win was his second over the Marlins this season. He yielded one run and five hits in eight innings of a 3-2 victory on Sept. 8.
Brian Moehler (7-10, 6.22), who is 0-2 with a 7.27 ERA in his last four starts, goes for Florida.
The right-hander lasted only 3 1-3 innings on Saturday, surrendering four runs and eight hits in an 8-6 loss to the Phillies.
Howard has hit only two homers in his last 18 games. He still needs two homers to become the sixth player in major league history with 60 in a season.
The Marlins (77-82) lost 5-1 to Cincinnati on Thursday for their fifth defeat in six games, a stretch which includes a three-game series sweep by the Phillies. Florida has been guaranteed of its first losing season since 2002.
The series also may be the final one for Joe Girardi as Marlins manager. Due to a rift with owner Jeffrey Loria, Girardi’s tenure could end after only one season despite being under contract through 2008.
Many projected the Marlins, who have the lowest payroll in the majors, to lose 100 games this season. Instead, Florida is 66-51 after an 11-31 start, and was a contender for a postseason spot until this past Tuesday.