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Phillies' struggles reaching historic levels

PHILADELPHIA -- Ken Giles had not appeared in a game since Friday and had thrown just 11 pitches since May 4, which is why Phillies fans watched him pitch the eighth inning in Tuesday's 7-2 loss to the Pirates at Citizens Bank Park.

He needed work.

Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon pitched the ninth. He also had not pitched since Friday, and had thrown just 22 pitches since May 4

The appearances of the team's two best relievers in a five-run loss summed up the past couple weeks for the Phillies, who have lost 11 of their last 14 games to drop to 11-23. It is the Phillies' worst start since 1971, when they also started 11-23.

The Phillies need to win Wednesday to avoid their worst start since 1961, when they opened at 11-24.

"It's definitely frustrating," Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz said.

Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg made a point not to use Giles in the eighth inning Sunday when the Phillies trailed the Mets, 5-4. He instead chose right-hander Jeanmar Gomez, who allowed two runs in the eighth inning, which halted any momentum the Phillies had after scoring two runs the previous inning to cut the deficit to one.

Sandberg said Sunday he did not want to use Giles in a "negative" situation, meaning the Phillies trailing by a run or more.

But while Sandberg did not want to use Giles in a one-run deficit Sunday he had no choice but to use Giles and Papelbon in a five-run deficit Tuesday.

After all, they cannot pitch only in tied or "plus" situations. This team is not in enough of them.

"That's frustrating. It is," Sandberg said. "That situation [Sunday] as with one day off. And now [Giles] has to pitch on his fourth day off because we can't have a lead and pitch him in that situation. That is frustrating."

The Phillies turned a 3-0 deficit into a 3-2 deficit with a couple runs in the sixth inning but Phillies right-hander Luis Garcia walked the first two batters he faced to spark the Pirates to a four-run inning to take the five-run lead.

The Phillies' bullpen entered the night with 59 walks, 11 more than any other team in baseball.

The Phillies had no chance to come back. They are averaging just 2.82 runs per game, which is the lowest scoring average in baseball.

No other team is averaging fewer than 3.16 runs per game.

The Phillies actually are on pace to have the second-lowest scoring team in baseball since 1909. Only the 1942 Phillies averaged fewer runs per game (2.61).

"That has been the story of late," Sandberg said. "Fall behind, chip away, get close and then not be able to take the lead. Tonight having to use Giles and Papelbon in a situation like that just to get their work in that's the effect of the last four games. That's a frustrating part of it.

"We get close and aren't able to get over the hump and get a lead and then let a couple guys like that pitch in a win-type of a situation."

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast.
Read More: Philadelphia Phillies, Ken Giles, Carlos Ruiz, Jonathan Papelbon, Jeanmar Gomez, Luis Garcia