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With veterans resting, Phillies struggle with fundamentals

PHILADELPHIA -- Thursday represented a first for the Phillies since they won the 2008 World Series: They did not have a single player from that championship roster in the lineup in a 9-1 loss to the Marlins at Citizens Bank Park.

This Phillies roster (5-11) is last in Major League Baseball in runs (41), but lead the game in errors (17) and walks (66). The club played sloppily in the series finale against the Marlins, who won the three-game set.

"We have some work to do," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "We have to tighten up the defense. We have to play a little bit smarter. Tighten up the fundamentals. We have to find some way to get some runs up there."

"We're better than this," Ben Revere said.

The fundamentals remain a major issue with the Phillies, despite the fact Sandberg made fundamentally sound baseball his mission statement when he replaced Charlie Manuel in August 2013. The Phillies made two more errors Thursday, walked five batters and made other mistakes on the field, like missing the cutoff man.

"It's frustrating. It really is," Sandberg said. "We've worked at it. We'll continue to work at it. But fundamental baseball is a priority. Making the routine plays is a priority. Hitting the cutoff man is a priority."

Sandberg regularly had players on the field before games when he took over as manager. He acknowledged in the offseason that work waned late in 2014, and early this season, there does not seem to have been as much of it, although weather and the time of games might have played a factor in that.

Perhaps that changes.

Asked if he thinks his players are capable of fundamental baseball, Sandberg said, "We're going to continue to work at it. That's going to be, like I said, that's a priority. We're going to continue to stress it and work at that. That's our goal."

"We definitely have to clean up some things defensively," Darin Ruf said.

The Phillies hope it starts Friday, when they open a three-game series against the Braves.

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone. Follow him on Twitter.
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