MILWAUKEE -- The Phillies have tried to walk a fine line in recent weeks between winning and evaluating.
They want to win games, despite the fact they are 11 games behind the National League Wild Card leaders with 44 games to play, but they also need to learn about the players on their roster, including the fresh faces in the bullpen. They want to see how pitchers like Josh Lindblom, Michael Schwimer, Jeremy Horst and B.J. Rosenberg handle pitching in tight situations. They want to know if they can be relied upon next season, when the organization expects to return to its winning ways.
But Lindblom, whom the Phillies acquired from the Dodgers in the Shane Victorino trade July 31, has not fared well. He allowed a grand slam in the eighth inning in Thursday's 7-4 loss to the Brewers at Miller Park, ruining what would have been one of the few good nights of the season for Cliff Lee.
Lindblom is 0-1 with a 10.80 ERA (six earned runs in five innings) in seven appearances with the Phils. He is 0-3 with a 6.75 ERA in 24 appearances since June 16.
"I haven't really made pitches. I haven't executed," Lindblom said. "There are really no excuses. You've got to make pitches and I haven't done that since I've come over here."
Lee seemed to be headed for just his third win after retiring the first two batters he faced in the eighth while holding a 4-3 lead. But third baseman Kevin Frandsen, whose bases-loaded double in the fifth cleared the bases to give Philadelphia a one-run lead, committed a two-out error to get things started for Milwaukee. Manager Charlie Manuel quickly called for Lindblom to replace Lee because they wanted him to face Ryan Braun, who had homered twice in three at-bats against Lee.
"I felt good, but it wasn't really debatable," Lee said. "Charlie came out and said we're going to go with the righty. Obviously, if he asks me how I feel or what I think, I'll tell him I want to keep pitching. But it wasn't really up for debate. He kind of had his mind made up. And considering Braun is 2-for-3 with two home runs, it actually makes some sense."
"He had gone that far and he had pitched far, I wanted him to leave on a good note," Manuel said. "I wanted him to win the game. It didn't turn out that way."
Lindblom fell behind Braun before intentionally walking him. He then walked Aramis Ramirez to load the bases. He quickly got to 0-2 against Corey Hart before he hit a 2-2 fastball just over the glove of Phillies right fielder Domonic Brown for a grand slam.
"The whole inning, I wasn't aggressive in the zone," Lindblom said. "Obviously, you don't want Braun to beat you, but you've got to come right after those games. The most important thing in that situation is getting ahead and having them hit your pitch. I wasn't ahead in any at-bat other than the Hart at-bat."
Lee's record remains stuck at 2-7, despite allowing five hits, three runs and striking out 12 in 7 2/3 innings. Lee's runs came on a pair of home runs from Braun and one from Ramirez. Lee has allowed 22 home runs, seven coming in two starts against the Brewers.
Lee just can't seem to catch a break. He has a 3.38 ERA in his last eight starts, but is just 2-2.
"It was one of those games," Lee said.
And one of those seasons.
But Thursday truly illustrated why the Phillies are where they are. They just do not have the consistency they need to win on a regular basis, although they have improved their play marginally since the All-Star break (17-14) and since the July 31 Trade Deadline (9-7).
The bullpen has allowed nine runs in the eighth inning in the last two games. If they perform better maybe they are 19-12 since the break and 11-5 since the Deadline.
But the last two games have not been good ones. Still, the bullpen has a 3.07 ERA in 21 appearances since July 21.
"I've seen us do some good things out of our bullpen, especially lately," Manuel said. "The last couple days we just couldn't get it done. That's growing pains."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.