SAN FRANCISCO -- The Phillies hoped they had picked up a little offensive momentum the last couple of days.
They scored eight runs Sunday against the Mets and five runs Monday against Giants ace Tim Lincecum. It had been the first time since Sept. 8-9 the Phillies scored five or more runs in consecutive games. So Tuesday at AT&T Park they loaded up on right-handed hitters against Giants left-hander Madison Bumgarner to try to keep the runs coming.
But the clutch hits never came in a 4-2 loss.
The Phillies put the leadoff hitter on base and had a runner in scoring position in six of the first seven innings, but scored just two runs. The first run came in the fourth inning when Hunter Pence hit a home run to left-center field. The second came in the sixth. The Phillies had the bases loaded and no outs, but John Mayberry Jr. popped out to first base, Carlos Ruiz hit a sacrifice fly to left field and Freddy Galvis grounded out to waste an excellent opportunity.
"We weren't able to get key hits," Placido Polanco said. "When you don't do that, you very rarely win games."
So Phillies manager Charlie Manuel will continue to search for his best lineup while Ryan Howard and Chase Utley are sidelined indefinitely with injuries.
He has a couple of interesting considerations.
Polanco is hitting just .179 (7-for-39) with one double and one RBI. Asked if he plans to stick with Polanco in the No. 2 spot, Manuel said, "He's always kind of fit there when he's been healthy. Polly knows he needs to get going. We've played 11 games now. Our guys know what they have to do. We've just not been able to generate enough offense. We won two games in a row, we lost two in a row, won two in a row, come back and lose, that's how we've been playing. We have to play better and play consistent."
Polanco is not happy at all with his hitting.
Asked how he felt he was swinging the bat, his answer dripped with sarcasm: "Great. Great."
"Like on a scale from 1 to 10?" he continued, when asked about his clear frustrations. "How do you want me to answer? I don't know how to explain it. I don't know what you want me to tell you. You go good, you go bad sometimes. I've just got to keep at it, but I can't really tell you how frustrated I am. Maybe if this was my first year in the league, I'd go crazy and this or that. But I've been here before. What you do when you go like that is you keep working."
Polanco mentioned how he hit .398 in April last season, but "after that I didn't do anything. Maybe this year it's the opposite."
Manuel also has to look at Mayberry, who is hitting .219 (7-for-32) with two RBIs. Juan Pierre is hitting .346 (9-for-26) with two RBIs.
He is earning more playing time in left field, which could squeeze out Mayberry.
"It's tough to leave Pierre out when he's getting hits and getting on," Manuel said. "That might be the toughest thing. Tonight, Pierre hits off the lefty and rolls a single up the middle. He hits balls everywhere. He puts the ball in play. He definitely can do some things."
Polanco said if he were a younger player he might find himself pressing. Mayberry is early in his career, so he might be doing just that.
"I haven't really paid attention to how he feels," Polanco said. "Maybe he feels great and he's hitting the ball hard at people. I don't know. I'm pretty sure he feels pressure. If he doesn't feel it, then he's not human. It's just how you handle it."
The offense left Phillies right-hander Joe Blanton with no room for error. The Giants jumped on him the way the Phillies jumped on Lincecum in the first inning Monday. Angel Pagan singled and scored on Melky Cabrera's triple into the right-field corner to make it 1-0. Cabrera scored on a fielder's choice from Pablo Sandoval to make it 2-0.
Blanton stranded runners in scoring position in the next three innings, but he could not pitch himself out of trouble in the fifth. Sandoval hit a leadoff double and moved to third on Buster Posey's single. Sandoval scored on Nate Schierholtz's single to right to make it 3-1. Posey then stole third. Ruiz's throw actually beat Posey to the base, but Polanco did not apply the tag before Posey's left arm touched the base.
"If [the throw] beat him that much, how come he was safe?" Polanco said. "I didn't do anything crazy. Just tagged."
Brandon Crawford then bounced the ball back to Blanton. He tried to turn an inning-ending double play by throwing the ball to Jimmy Rollins for the force at second, but he stumbled before he threw. The second lost cost him. The Phillies could not turn the double play and Posey scored.
Blanton allowed 11 hits and four runs in five innings.
"That kind of day," Blanton said. "They hit some balls hard, but a lot of balls fell in. But give them credit because I felt like they were tough pitches and they put the bat on the ball."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.