The Philadelphia Phillies began the season believing it could be like each of the previous five, with an NL East title and a chance to win the World Series.
For the first time in six years, though, they won't even have the opportunity to finish as champions.
A day after being eliminated from postseason contention, the slumping Phillies face a Miami Marlins team on Saturday night that has been out of the playoff picture for weeks.
Philadelphia (78-79) overcame an awful first half before a late surge pulled it within three games of St. Louis for NL's second wild-card spot last Friday. The Phillies have lost five of six since, though, and were officially eliminated with Friday's 2-1 defeat in Miami."It's disappointing," starter Cliff Lee said. "I think everyone here could agree with that. We expected to win this division, make the postseason, and win the World Series ultimately. Obviously that's not going to happen now."
Carlos Lee 's game-winning single in the bottom of the ninth inning helped Miami (67-90) snap a season-high seven-game losing streak and dash Philadelphia's faint postseason hopes.
There are several factors why the Phillies are missing the playoffs for the first time since 2006, but injuries to some of their best players tends to be the leading reason. Chase Utley and Ryan Howard each missed the season's first three months, while Roy Halladay (10-8, 4.40 ERA) spent seven weeks on the disabled list.
Halladay has rarely pitched like a two-time Cy Young Award winner and is wrapping up his worst season since his injury-plagued 2004, when he went 8-8 with a 4.20 ERA for Toronto.
He wasn't 100 percent against Atlanta last Saturday, and it showed. Two days after feeling spasms behind his right shoulder, Halladay was tagged for seven runs in 1 2-3 innings in an 8-2 loss, the second-shortest start of his career.
Halladay's last win came against the Marlins on Sept. 11, but it wasn't a gem by any means. He permitted five runs, seven hits and three walks over 6 1-3 innings in a 9-7 victory.
Giancarlo Stanton homered in that one, and is 4 for 8 against the eight-time All-Star this year.
Stanton, one of the few bright spots on a Marlins team trying to avoid losing 91 games for the first time since 2007, hit his 35th home run Friday after missing the previous nine games with an oblique strain. He established a career high for homers, bettering his mark from a year ago in 86 fewer at-bats.
Howard, meanwhile, has 14 home runs and will finish with his fewest since hitting 22 as a rookie in 2005. The slugger is 1 for 15 with eight strikeouts in his last five games after homering in each of his previous four, and is 1 for 21 with eight strikeouts against the Marlins this year.
Little suggests facing Ricky Nolasco (12-12, 4.35) will help him snap out of his slump.
Since 2009, Howard is 3 for 17 (.176) against Nolasco, who is 3-0 with a 1.46 ERA in his last five starts.
Nolasco pitched well enough to win Sunday against the New York Mets , yielding two runs and five hits over seven innings, but the Marlins ended up losing 3-2.
The right-hander has posted a 3.86 ERA in winning his season's two starts against the Phillies, and last faced them July 1.
|September 05, 2012||Placido Polanco||15-Day DL||Lower back inflammation|
|August 31, 2012||Raul Valdes||15-Day DL||Torn meniscus in right knee|
|August 29, 2012||Cole Hamels||Day-to-Day||Gastrointestinal illness|
|August 29, 2012||Vance Worley||15-Day DL||Loose bodies in right elbow|
|August 28, 2012||Domonic Brown||Day-to-Day||Left game - left knee soreness|
|August 24, 2012||Brian Schneider||15-Day DL||Strained left hamstring|
|September 21, 2012||Justin Ruggiano||Day-to-Day||Sprained right shoulder|
|September 18, 2012||Giancarlo Stanton||Day-to-Day||Strained right oblique|
|September 14, 2012||Carlos Lee||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained neck|
|September 04, 2012||Heath Bell||Day-to-Day||Sore left foot|
|August 22, 2012||Emilio Bonifacio||60-Day DL||Sprained right knee|
|August 13, 2012||Nick Green||15-Day DL||Sprained left thumb|
MIAMI (AP) -- Roy Halladay went out a winner, and the Philadelphia Phillies are hoping that provides a boost going into the offseason.
Halladay survived a shaky opening inning before settling down in his final start of the season, Jimmy Rollins had three hits and scored three times, and the Phillies beat the Miami Marlins 9-5 on Saturday night.
Chase Utley drove in three runs and Carlos Ruiz added a two-run double for the Phillies, who evened their record at 79-79 with four games left. Halladay (11-8) allowed six hits and four runs, striking out seven and walking three in five innings.
"I guarantee this," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "When he comes back next spring, you're going to see a guy who's ready to go, and strong."
Giancarlo Stanton had three hits, including his 36th homer, and drove in three runs for Miami. The Marlins led 3-0 after an inning but lost for the 91st time - matching the most by the franchise in any season since 1999.
Ricky Nolasco (12-13) allowed nine hits and five runs in five innings for Miami, which got a three-hit night from Donovan Solano .
"After the second inning," Nolasco said, "I felt like I had already thrown six."
Miami loaded the bases in each of the last two innings, getting only one run out of those opportunities.
"Very ugly game," Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said.
The Phillies said first baseman Ryan Howard will miss the remainder of the year with a broken right big toe, an injury suffered on Thursday when he dropped a metal pipe on his foot in the on-deck circle. The injury, which typically heals after a few weeks, is not expected to significantly impact Howard's offseason training program.
Halladay's win total will be his lowest since he went 8-8 for Toronto in 2004. His ERA of 4.49 is nearly double the mark of 2.35 from a year ago and well over the 2.98 he posted from 2001 through 2011. The 132 strikeouts match his fewest since 2006, and opponents have hit their highest average against him - .261 - since 2007.
And Miami, which flailed at everything Halladay threw when he pitched a perfect game at the Marlins' former ballpark in 2010, wasted little time getting to him on Saturday.
"The first inning was obviously very sloppy," Halladay said. "But after that, I felt like it got better."
Bryan Petersen and Solano led off with singles, and Jose Reyes walked on four pitches to load the bases for Stanton. He tapped a two-run single to center, and Rob Brantly later brought Reyes home and put the Marlins up 3-0.
From there, other than Stanton hitting a solo homer in the third, the night was pretty much controlled by the Phillies.
Pete Orr 's two-run double in the second got Philadelphia on the board, and the Phillies added three in the fifth - an inning where Halladay led off with a single. Utley's two-run single tied the game, and he scored the go-ahead run on Domonic Brown 's triple to center.
Ruiz's double in the seventh pushed the lead to 7-4, and Utley's third RBI in the eighth gave the Phillies a four-run cushion.
Halladay missed nearly two months this season because of injury, and gave up seven runs in 1 2-3 innings in his last start, Sept. 22 against Atlanta - prompting concerns of bigger problems. But Halladay said he didn't have to persuade the Phillies to give him the ball once more in 2012.
"Regardless what the results have been, I feel like I kind of owe it to my teammates to keep going out there," Halladay said. "Chase continues to play and everybody else going out there and continuing to play, the last thing I'm going to do is not try and go out and pitch."
The Marlins got an RBI single from Gil Velazquez in the eighth, after loading the bases with none out. Pinch-hitter Austin Kearns went down on strikes for the second out; the pitch got away from Ruiz, who retrieved it and flipped to reliever Antonio Bastardo in time to easily catch Carlos Lee trying to score from third.
Lee popped up for the second out when the bases were loaded again in the ninth, and Jonathan Papelbon - not in a save situation - struck out Greg Dobbs to end the 4-hour, 3-minute game.
Notes: Rollins hit a foul ball that drifted into the third-base seats in the seventh, and a fan tried to catch the pop-up with his popcorn bucket. Predictable hilarity followed - popcorn sailed everywhere. Rollins eventually reached and scored his 100th run of the season on Ruiz's double. ... LHP Cole Hamels (16-6) pitches for the Phillies on Sunday afternoon against Marlins RHP Nathan Eovaldi (3-6). ... The Marlins have set their rotation for the final three games against the New York Mets : RHP Josh Johnson is scheduled to go on Monday, RHP Jacob Turner on Tuesday and LHP Mark Buehrle in the finale on Wednesday afternoon.