ST. LOUIS -- Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. must be having second thoughts about buying before Wednesday's Trade Deadline.
It is hard to remember the Phillies had won 10 of 14 games entering Saturday's game against the Mets at Citi Field. They had moved a game above .500 for just the second time this season and had crept within 6 1/2 games of the first-place Braves in the National League East. They looked ready to make a second-half run at a postseason berth.
But the Phillies have lost five consecutive games since, including Thursday's 3-1 loss to the Cardinals at Busch Stadium. They hardly resemble a postseason team at this point, not leading after a full inning in any game since they beat the Mets last Friday. And with just four games remaining before the Deadline, one wonders if there is enough time to save themselves from a fire sale.
"We're all very aware of what time of year it is," Phillies third baseman Michael Young said. "But we're not going to get wrapped up in that. What's going to happen is going to happen. We need to focus on improving and playing better baseball."
The Phillies open a three-game series Friday in Detroit, but even if they play well, will it be enough? They can enter the 4 p.m. ET Trade Deadline no better than .500 if they sweep the Tigers and win the first game of a three-game series Tuesday against the Giants at Citizens Bank Park.
"I don't know," Young said. "I don't know what anybody's plans are. It's difficult to say. We know our fingers aren't on the button. That's why it's difficult for us to say. Our responsibility is to go out there and play good baseball. As far as what the timetable is, I couldn't answer that. But it is in our hands to go out there and control how we play starting tomorrow night."
The Phillies have not handled their responsibilities these past five games, especially offensively. They have scored just nine runs in these five losses, hitting .224 overall and .118 (4-for-34) with runners in scoring position.
Perhaps injuries are catching up to them. They are without Ryan Howard, who is recovering from left knee surgery; Ben Revere, who is recovering from right ankle surgery; and Domonic Brown, who is on the seven-day concussion disabled list.
"We've got to really do the extra things to score some runs," manager Charlie Manuel said. "At times we have trouble definitely putting anything on the board."
So with nobody hitting, the Phillies' pitching needs to be perfect. Right-hander Kyle Kendrick allowed three runs, five hits, two walks and struck out one in six innings. His only trouble came in the third, when he allowed all three runs, four hits and one walk.
He retired 11 of the final 12 batters he faced, but the damage had been done.
"Just one bad inning," Kendrick said. "They were aggressive. One bad inning, you lose the game."
The Phillies scored their only run in the fourth inning, when Erik Kratz singled to left field to score Laynce Nix with one out. Kendrick tried to bunt runners to second and third, but instead bunted into a 1-5-4 double play.
"It was a bad bunt," Kendrick said.
The Phillies also lined into an inning-ending double play in the first and grounded into another inning-ending double play in the seventh.
Kendrick and Young spoke in a quiet visitors' clubhouse. Kendrick has been with the team since 2007 and has seen mostly winning in that time. He said this might be as down as he has seen this team since he has been here.
"We're in a rough patch right now," he said. "We haven't been consistent all year. We've looked good at times, but not consistent with everything. Hopefully we can start playing better. We have a short time to turn it around. I have faith in these guys. That's for sure."
But does the front office? They could decide in the coming days to trade a player like Young, whom many teams covet.
"Realistically, we all know what's out there," Young said. "I've been around the game for a while. I know what happens. I've seen guys come and go this time of year. But at the same time, I get motivated by playing baseball. But at the same time, I'd be lying if I said ... this is a very realistic thing. I've said all along, I'd love to win here. This team traded for me. I want to finish up the season on a high note. At the same time, there are a lot of things I don't control."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.