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MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers left Miller Park late Sunday with nothing to show for their week long homestand but a six-pack of losses, but not before manager Ken Macha was grilled on the postgame hot seat.
"When it's all said and done, I know I've done the best job I can do," Macha told reporters after the Brewers' 4-2 loss to the Phillies. "I know I have put everything I could into this job, and that's all I can do."
Macha and his team will look for better success in Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Minnesota during their third three-city road trip this season. The schedule might be cause for grumbling if the Brewers weren't so much better on the road than they are on what's supposed to be friendly turf.
The Phillies' sweep capped Milwaukee's winless, six-game homestand that began with three losses to the previously-struggling Braves. The Brewers have dropped eight straight home games for the first time in 14 years, and their 4-14 record at Miller Park this season marks the poorest 18-game home start in 42 seasons as a franchise.
Casey McGehee and Corey Hart hit back-to-back home runs with two outs in the sixth inning, but that was all the offense the Brewers could muster against Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels (4-2), who pitched into the seventh inning for his second straight win.
Brewers right-hander Dave Bush (1-4) was bumped up a day to start Sunday in place of Doug Davis after Davis was placed on the disabled list with swelling around his heart, and Bush delivered a quality start. But RBI doubles by Placido Polanco in the first inning, Hamels in the second inning and shortstop Wilson Valdez, who also played a sensational game in the field, in the third inning was enough to finish the Phillies' sweep.
"It's a good series for us," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "Things are not going their way right now."
Manuel didn't have to remind Macha, who faces the press twice a day and already had answered a series of questions about job security two weeks ago in Los Angeles, when the Brewers were coming off three losses in four games at San Diego. He answered another wave on Sunday night.
"I think all of our coaches are going about the job in the right way. I'll put our preparation up to anyone's," Macha said. "We've got guys out hitting extra every day. Our bullpen guys are out at 3 [p.m.] in the afternoon, working hard. The pitching coach is in there preparing as hard as he can every day.
"All you can do as a coach or a manager is examine yourself all the time, make sure you're putting forth what you should be putting forth. If you have had success doing that, then you continue to do it. To all of a sudden change the way you do stuff, you're not looking to do that. All of the guys we have in that room coaching have had success doing things and we have to fight our way through this. At the end of the day, you have to sit there and say, 'I did things the right way.' Really, sometimes it's not in your hands."
General manager Doug Melvin came to Macha's defense in Los Angeles and McGehee did the same for Macha on Sunday.
"He ain't thrown a pitch, he ain't hit a ball, he ain't made an error. None of that," McGehee said. "I think sometimes managers get too much credit and too much blame sometimes. When it ain't going right, it ain't going right. There's nothing you can say or do. He's trying to keep us all together and we're all fighting. I think the manager's biggest job is to make sure he's getting effort out of his guys, and I'd be hard-pressed to find anybody that questions the effort that's taking place out there. It might not always look pretty, it might not always go our way, but I think the way we battle says enough about the coaching staff and our manager."
Does first baseman Prince Fielder worry that a shake-up could be coming?
"That happens at times if things aren't going right, but that's not something you can dwell on," Fielder said. "That's the business side. When you come to the field, you're paid to play baseball. Those aren't even my decisions anyway, so I try to stay out of that."
The Phillies tacked on an insurance run in the top of the eighth inning when Carlos Villanueva's third-strike slider to Chase Utley took what catcher Gregg Zaun called a "squirrelly" bounce and got by for a wild pitch. Shane Victorino scored from third for his second run of the game.
But McGehee and Hart each had a chance in the bottom of the inning, batting with runners at first and second and none out. McGehee bounced into a double play and Valdez robbed Hart of a hit with a long throw from shortstop to end the inning.
"Their shortstop, jeez," McGehee said. "[We have to] figure out somebody else to hit the ball to."
Hamels was charged with two runs on six hits in 6 2/3 innings. That was enough to beat Bush.
"It certainly wasn't an easy six [innings]," Bush said. "On the plus side, I battled through it. I stranded some runners here and there and kept us in the game. [I was] a little bit short tonight, but we had our chances late in the game to at least get the tying run on base. So not all positive, but not all negative either."
Before this weekend, the Brewers had not lost eight consecutive home games since they dropped nine in a row from July 31-Aug. 11, 1996.
Said McGehee: "It's puzzling. It doesn't add up. You definitely can't say that it's because of the fans. ... It's just a crazy game. Believe me, I think if anybody had an answer we'd all be happy."
Macha, of course, was asked once again about the home woes.
"That question," he said, "is getting tired."