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Phillies fall below .500 for first time since April

Velasquez's struggles continue, allowing six runs over 3 2/3 innings
MLB.com @ToddZolecki

DENVER -- The end is near, but there is no end in sight to the Phillies' losing.

Philadelphia lost, 10-3, Tuesday night to the Rockies at Coors Field, extending its losing streak to a season-high six games. The loss dropped the Phillies to 78-79, the first time they have had a losing record since they were 4-5 on April 9. Philadelphia needs to win four of its remaining five games to finish with a winning record. The Phillies need to win three just to finish .500.

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DENVER -- The end is near, but there is no end in sight to the Phillies' losing.

Philadelphia lost, 10-3, Tuesday night to the Rockies at Coors Field, extending its losing streak to a season-high six games. The loss dropped the Phillies to 78-79, the first time they have had a losing record since they were 4-5 on April 9. Philadelphia needs to win four of its remaining five games to finish with a winning record. The Phillies need to win three just to finish .500.

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"We have not played good baseball for quite some time," manager Gabe Kapler said. "We have to find a way to perform better. We have to find a way to work harder, prepare better and come out and fight."

It has been a historic fall. The Phillies are 6-17 (.261) in September, which puts them on pace for their worst September/October since 1942, when they finished 6-21 (.222). Philadelphia is 15-31 (.326) since it had the second-best record in the National League on Aug. 5. The Phillies need to win one of their remaining five games to avoid their worst 51-game finish since '42, when they finished 12-39. They need to win twice to avoid their worst 51-game finish since '99, when they finished 16-35.

Many would consider the season a disappointment if the Phillies finish below .500. Sure, they lost 96 games last season and had the youngest roster in baseball on Opening Day. But expectations changed once they signed Jake Arrieta in March, won early and held first place in the National League East through the second week of August.

"I will be pleased if we fight all the way through the finish line, the last pitch of the season," Kapler said. "If we bust it, grind, and fight for every inch, I will be especially pleased."

• Kapler aware of public criticism after first season

Phillies right-hander Vince Velasquez allowed six runs on eight hits and two walks while striking out two over 3 2/3 innings. He is 1-4 with an 8.45 ERA in eight starts since early August.

Velasquez allowed three runs in the third inning, but Kapler allowed him the opportunity to continue, hoping he could pitch well enough to enter the offseason with some confidence. It did not go as planned.

It might have been Velasquez's final start of the season, although that has not been decided.

"I kind of don't want to go out ending this way," Velasquez said. "I kind of want to end the season on a winning note."

Video: PHI@COL: Kapler, Velasquez talk loss to Rockies

The Phillies would like that, too. But at this moment, it is hard to see them winning even three games to break even. They have been outscored during their losing streak, 41-16.

"With all the talent that we have here, there's no doubt in my mind that we're not capable of doing that," Velasquez said.

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Phillies left fielder Dylan Cozens singled and scored on Scott Kingery's double in the sixth inning. Cozens could see more playing time in the regular season's final five games with Aaron Altherr sidelined with a torn ligament in his big right toe, Nick Williams sidelined with a swollen right middle finger, Rhys Hoskins seeing more time at first base and Jose Bautista not expected to play much as the Phillies give their younger players a look.

Video: PHI@COL: Kingery belts an RBI double to deep center

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Carlos Santana started his 11th game at third base, which is noteworthy because Philadelphia could be looking for a way to move Hoskins back to first base and keep Santana in the lineup in 2019. Santana made an impressive play to end the fourth inning, when he caught a ground ball down the third-base line from Trevor Story, turned and made a strong throw to first base.

Video: PHI@COL: Santana makes backhanded stop, fires for out

HE SAID IT
"We have the highest expectation that our players will give everything they have on every single play. And every time a guy comes out of the batter's box, we expect they are going to give every ounce of their energy and effort. That's something I would like to go back and look at." -- Kapler, on if Odubel Herrera ran hard out of the box on a first-inning double-play ball

INJURY UPDATES
Altherr crashed face-first into the left-field wall Monday. The Phillies said Altherr strained a ligament in his right big toe, ending his season. He also had symptoms of a concussion but was cleared following further testing Tuesday.

Catcher Wilson Ramos left the game because of a sore right wrist, which has bothered him since last month. Catcher Jorge Alfaro did not play Tuesday because of a mild right quadriceps strain. Kapler said they should be OK behind the plate with Andrew Knapp and Alfaro, who can play as much as he can tolerate the quad issue. Santana has caught in the past.

Shortstop J.P. Crawford (sore right shoulder) still cannot throw as needed to play the infield. Maikel Franco (sore right wrist) has not improved enough to play.

UP NEXT
Phillies right-hander Nick Pivetta (7-13, 4.58 ERA) faces Rockies right-hander German Marquez (13-10, 3.91) on Wednesday night in the third game of a four-game series at Coors Field, with first pitch set for 8:40 p.m. ET. Pivetta is 0-4 with a 5.35 ERA in his last seven starts.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Philadelphia Phillies, Vince Velasquez