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Defending world champion Phillies dealing with problems similar to Tampa Bay Rays'

ST. PETERSBURG — The Phillies looked like the defending champions Tuesday night in routing the Rays 10-1 in a World Series rematch.

But through the first few months, they have struggled to find consistency like Tampa Bay.

That's why even after snapping a six-game losing streak in a big way, and padding their best-in-the-majors 24-9 road record, the Phillies want to see a complete game like Tuesday's become more of the norm.

"Tonight is great and we got a little room to celebrate," manager Charlie Manuel said. "But when we leave here, we should be thinking about tomorrow's game. That's what works for us."

Left-hander Cole Hamels said the Phillies feel fortunate to be in first place in the NL East. The offense, for the most part, has been there, but the pitching has been beat up (with four currently on the disabled list) and the bullpen, often dominant a year ago, hasn't been as sharp.

But the Phillies (37-31) pointed out that they didn't just coast through their World Series run — which included similar scuffles in interleague play — and are confident they can get back.

"I think we're at the same point we were last year, truly," Hamels said. "This is one of those stages that we're just trying to get through. We know what it takes to get wins."

Injuries have taken their toll. Outfielder Raul Ibanez, an offseason acquisition who has 22 homers, is on the disabled list, joining right-hander Brett Myers and relievers Scott Eyre, Clay Condrey and Brad Lidge.

The Phillies got slugger Ryan Howard back after a weekend bout with acute sinusitis and could see Lidge (sprained right knee) activated as early as today.

Howard came through right away with an RBI double in the six-run first, more than they had scored in five of their past six games. And veteran left-hander Jamie Moyer picked up his 251st career win, tying Hall of Famer Bob Gibson for 43rd all time.

"It's nice to start a road trip with a win," Moyer said. "It's a long, 10-game trip, and we're coming off a not very good homestand. … So to score six (early) runs, it was nice."

Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith@sptimes.com

Defending world champion Phillies dealing with problems similar to Tampa Bay Rays' 06/23/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 24, 2009 8:00am]
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