Despite his team's current state, Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel - at least publicly - believes the Phillies can turn things around after the All-Star break.
Cliff Lee hopes to build on his first win of the season - his team's lone victory in its last 11 games - as he and the Phillies look to continue their recent success against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on Friday night.
Winner of five consecutive NL East titles, Philadelphia (37-50) is last in the division and below .500 at the All-Star break for the first time since it was 40-47 in 2006. The Phillies' current record is their worst at the break since they were 24-61 in 1997.
Though Philadelphia's 4-3 home loss to Atlanta on Sunday was its fourth straight, Manuel isn't ready to throw in the towel.
"Have I tried everything? I think I have, yes,'' said Manuel, whose team is 14 games behind first-place Washington and 10 out of a wild-card spot. "But at the same time, I'm still willing to try something else.
"I believe we can (make the playoffs) because I'll always believe, (but) we've got to play probably the best baseball we've ever played."
The Phillies are 1-9 with Utley in the lineup since he made his 2012 debut June 27 from a knee injury. He's hitting .235 with two homers and three RBIs.
Howard went 2 for 8 in two games versus Atlanta last weekend in his first action since tearing his Achilles in Game 5 of last year's NL division series.
Center fielder Shane Victorino, who was benched Sunday and has been the subject of trade rumors, is 2 for 20 in his last five contests.
Utley has hit .368 with eight home runs and 36 RBIs in 27 career contests, including the postseason, at Coors Field. Howard is batting .381 with four homers and 16 RBIs in his last 10 regular season and playoff games in Denver.
Philadelphia, which took two of three from the Rockies (33-52) at home June 19-21, has won 11 of 13 at Coors, including two games in the 2009 division series.
Lee (1-5, 3.98 ERA) is 2-0 with a 1.16 ERA in three regular and postseason starts against the Rockies, but has not faced them since he allowed an earned run in 7 1-3 innings of a 5-4 victory at Coors in Game 4 of the 2009 NLDS.
The left-hander gave up two runs and struck out nine in eight innings July 4 for his first victory in 14 starts this season, 9-2 at New York.
"I would've loved to have a win a long time ago,'' said Lee, who was 0-2 with a 7.30 ERA in his previous four starts. "It's something I can't control."
All-Star Carlos Gonzalez, 3 for 7 with two walks against Lee, hopes to help the Rockies continue to build some confidence after they took two of three at Washington last weekend.
"You look for little incremental things in relation to where we're at and where we're trying to get to," manager Jim Tracy said.
Gonzalez is batting .330 with 17 homers and 58 RBIs in 61 games but is 2 for 15 with seven strikeouts in his last four.
Facing Philadelphia for the first time, Colorado starter Christian Friedrich (4-6, 5.98) is 0-5 with a 7.85 ERA in six starts since winning at Arizona on June 4. The rookie left-hander allowed six runs in 4 1-3 innings of a 6-2 loss at St. Louis on July 5.
He's 1-3 with a 9.62 ERA in five outings at home.
- Coors Field
- Colorado Rockies
- Cliff Lee
- Ryan Howard