PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Jimmy Rollins glanced at the media around his locker and had only one message to convey:
``Don't waste your time, guys.'
The Philadelphia Phillies shortstop put on his dark sunglasses and walked out of the clubhouse. His only comment perhaps a fitting first-half epitaph for the worst team in the NL East.
Don't waste your time.
Brian McCann homered for the third straight game in the series and Dan Uggla hit a two-run shot to lead the Atlanta Braves to a three-game sweep of Phillies in a 4-3 win on Sunday.
Charlie Manuel says he still believes the Phillies can make the playoffs. But he's the manager and he certainly won't publicly throw in the towel on an out-of-nowhere disaster of a season.
The five-time NL East champion Phillies are staggering heading into the All-Star break. They have lost 10 of 11 games and are 13 games under .500 (37-50) and 14 games behind first-place Washington. The Phillies lost 60 games all of last season.
Feeling down over a horrendous slump, Shane Victorino talked with Manuel before the game and was scratched from the seventh spot in the starting lineup about an hour before first pitch. Manuel said Victorino did not ask out of the lineup.
``That's the first time I've seen him acting like that,' Manuel said. ``He's going through a tough time.'
The Phillies may need more than four days to recover from a dreadful first half.
``Have I tried everything? I think I have, yes,' Manuel said. ``But at the same time, I'm still willing to try something else. I'll keep trying.'
The recent returns of Chase Utley and Ryan Howard failed to make a difference for the last-place team. Two-time Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay will throw a bullpen session Tuesday in Clearwater and, if all goes well, could make a rehab start there on Thursday. He needs to be healthy and effective in a hurry if the Phillies have any chance at making a run toward a sixth straight playoff appearance in the second half.
``I believe we can (make the playoffs) because I'll always believe,' Manuel said.
And he believes he's the right manager to lead the team the rest of the way. Manuel, who led the Phillies to the 2008 World Series championship, defended his resume when asked about his job security the rest of the season.
``How concerned am I? I've got a lot of confidence in myself,' he said. ``I am a fighter. Not only that, I think I'm a winner.'
It was tough Sunday to get a pulse on how the Phillies feel about a potential second-half surge. Staring pitcher Vance Worley and centerfielder Jason Pridie were the only players to talk to the press. Pridie homered, doubled and had three RBIs as a last-minute replacement for Victorino.
Worley suggested some time away from each other may help. Maybe. They better hope it does, because nothing on the field is clicking.
``We've got to play probably the best baseball we've ever played,' in the second half, Manuel said.
Maybe getting away from McCann will help.
McCann hit a grand slam on Friday, a solo shot on Saturday, then hit the go-ahead homer in the seventh inning off Raul Valdes (2-2). McCann has homered in four straight games overall and has helped Atlanta head into the All-Star break on a four-game winning streak.
Craig Kimbrel worked a scoreless ninth for his 25th save.
Jair Jurrjens (3-2) allowed a two-run homer to Pridie in the second inning. Victorino was slated to start in center before manager Charlie Manuel changed his mind. Victorino has been the subject of trade rumors for the freefalling Phillies and was batting only .245.
Uggla tied the game in the fourth when he snapped an 0 for 20 skid with a two-run homer, his 12th, to center.
Pridie delivered again when he his shot one-hopped the scoreboard in right for a run-scoring double - his first since Sept. 28, 2011 - to make it 3-2. Pridie, called up when the Phillies traded Jim Thome to Baltimore, served a 50-game suspension this season for violating baseball's drug policy.
He made Manuel look like a genius for the lineup switch.
But again, not even an unexpected dose of offense could snap the Phillies out of their skid.
Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said it was too early to count out the Phillies.
``I'm surprised, but I'm scared,' he said. ``That's a good club over there with Utley and Howard back. There's a long season left.'
The Phillies need to shore up a bullpen that has failed them time and again. This time, it was Valdes who blew it in the seventh when he allowed McCann's winner to the disgust of a fed-up and sold-out crowd.
Worley allowed three runs and seven hits in six innings for the Phillies.
Notes: The Phillies are under .500 at the All-Star break for the fourth time in the last 15 seasons and first time since 2006. ... The Braves swept the Phillies for the first time since April 2-5 (3-0) 2007. ... The Phillies are 17-27 at home. ... McCann is one shy of matching his personal best of homers in five straight games (July 15-19, 2006).
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved