April is first losing month since June 2009

The Sports Xchange
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For the first time in 15 regular-season months, the Phillies will finish with a losing record. They guaranteed a losing April -- their first since 2007 -- with Sunday's 5-1 loss to the Chicago Cubs.

Before Sunday, the Phillies (10-12) hadn't had a losing month in the regular season since June 2009, when they went 11-15.

"The bats will get going. It's early," pitcher Kyle Kendrick said. "We've been through struggles like this before and the bats have come through. It's a long season. I think the guys will start swinging it and we'll be fine."

Despite a bounce-back effort from Kendrick, who was knocked out before recording an out in the fourth inning in his previous start, the offense continued to struggle in the absence of All-Stars Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, who both began the season on the disabled list.

The Phillies had just one hit Sunday before Hunter Pence legged out a two-out, infield single in the ninth inning of Chicago closer Carlos Marmol. The Phils have scored two runs or less in 12 of their 22 games.

"We didn't hit a ball hard," manager Charlie Manuel said. "I expect us to score runs and I expect us to hit balls hard. But if we don't hit the ball hard . . . at times, you can have some luck hits and things can go your way. At the same time, you've got to hit some balls hard in the game, consistently move the ball a little bit, especially at the major league level."

After finishing up a four-game series with the Cubs on Monday, the Phils will hit the road for six games against two of the teams ahead of them in the National League East, the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals. Following Sunday's defeat, Manuel was asked if it has been difficult for his team to "keep their heads above water" with the current injury-ravaged lineup.

"I don't know if we're keeping our head above water; I feel like we're treading water," Manuel said. "I feel like we've got to play a lot better. We can't get far behind."

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