Padres-Phillies Preview

The Associated Press

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.

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