MIAMI -- Through the final seven innings, the Philadelphia Phillies' bullpen successfully nursed a one-run lead. Shane Victorino scored from second base on an infield single and chased down a 420-foot fly for the final out. With their season on the brink, the Phils came through with a clutch win.
It wasn't enough.
Philadelphia averted elimination from the NL wild-card race for an hour by beating the Florida Marlins 4-3. But subsequent victories by the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres quashed the Phils' hopes of reaching the postseason for the first time since 1993.
The results left Philadelphia trailing the Dodgers and Padres by two games with one to play.
"We just didn't win enough," manager Charlie Manuel said.
The Phils drew small consolation from winning Saturday, when the offense overcame an early deficit and the bullpen shut out Florida over the final 7 1/3 innings.
But for the second year in a row, the Phils (85-76) fell torturously shy of a wild-card berth. They finished one game behind Houston in the race last year.
"We've got to get better," Manuel said. "We've got to get to a place where we can consistently win 93 to 100 games. That will put us in a position to get something -- more than likely we'll compete for our division, and the wild card will be automatic."
Despite a second-half surge, the Phillies lost control of their destiny when they dropped three of four games to Houston and Washington at the start of the week.
"It's frustrating, but what can you do?" Victorino said.
The Phils failed to make the playoff despite 45 wins since the All-Star break, most in the NL. They were 40-47 at the break.
"Most teams that played as well as we played the second half have clinched," Gordon said. "It's tough."
The latest win was characteristic of the way Philadelphia performed in the past 2½ months.
Because he faced a must-win situation, Manuel pulled starter Randy Wolf after only 1 2/3 innings. Wolf gave up five hits and departed with the score 3-all.
"During the season, we probably would have stayed with him a little longer," Manuel said. "We had to stop them right there."
Ryan Madson (11-9) pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings. Gordon earned his 34th save in 39 chances.
Scott Olsen (12-10) allowed four runs in six innings and lost to the Phils for the third time this year.
"They have a balanced lineup - speed at the top, power in the middle, and just about everybody's hitting .300 or better," Olsen said. "It's hard to get those guys out."
The young Marlins were in the wild-card chase themselves less than two weeks ago, but they've lost 13 of their past 17 games. Florida hasn't won a series since Anibal Sanchez pitched a no-hitter Sept. 6 against Arizona.
If not for a 5-13 record against Philadelphia -- including losses the past two days -- the Marlins would be above .500.
"It's not about knocking a team out of the playoffs," Marlins manager Joe Girardi said. "It's about proving to teams that you can beat them, and we haven't done that against the Phillies."
Victorino's hustle put the Phils ahead for good. He legged out a double to start the third, then came home on a one-out single to short right field by Howard.
Second baseman Uggla fielded the ball several steps behind the dirt, but his throw was wide to Olsen covering first, and Victorino came home without a play.
Howard also was hit by a pitch, walked twice and struck out to remain at 58 home runs. He'll get one final shot at the 60 milestone Sunday, but his playoff debut will have to wait.
"You lay it all out there," he said with a shrug. "And whatever happens, happens."
- The start of the game was delayed 28 minutes by rain.
- Cabrera, Willingham and Uggla are tied for the Florida lead in homers with 26 apiece.
- Cabrera improved to 10-for-19 lifetime (.526) against Wolf.
- C Lieberthal left the game in the fourth inning with a right groin strain.