By Mike Radano/Special to MLB.com PHILADELPHIA -- Kyle Kendrick's frustration didn't come through in what he said on Sunday afternoon as much as it was how he said it.
"No," Kendrick said when asked if he tried to pitch around Milwaukee's Prince Fielder with two on in the first. "I should have and I didn't -- anything else?"
Kendrick took the loss after he allowed five runs in just four innings of work. Former Philadelphia starter Randy Wolf baffled his former team over 6 2/3 innings, as the Brewers beat the Phils, 6-2. The win, coupled with Florida's 7-6 win in 10 innings over Atlanta, meant the Phillies (78-59) remain one game back in the National League East.
Kendrick's recent struggles have been magnified by a lack of run support, but no matter how one looks at it, the Phils' fifth starter has had a disappointing stretch of games. Including Sunday's effort, Kendrick (9-8) is 2-4 over his last six starts, having allowed 24 earned runs on 46 hits over 30 2/3 innings for a 7.04 ERA. Over that same stretch, the offense has been held to just 24 runs, three per game.
"Today [Kendrick] made some bad pitches," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "It's command. The sinker is his best pitch, and that's the ball he has to be aggressive with around the plate. But it all comes back to his command."
A familiar pattern emerged early against Milwaukee, as Corey Hart hit a bloop single with one out in the first inning. Ryan Braun followed with a double to right, and up stepped Fielder.
"Early on in the game, I think Kyle was making some pretty good pitches," first baseman Ryan Howard said. "Hart got a kind of a bleeder, and then Brauny got a bleeder.
"I think Kyle was aggressive. I talked to him a little bit. It's like I said before, he came out and threw aggressive. Then he made the mistake to Prince. It's one of those things. He's had good outings before now; he just needs to put some more together."
But that mistake to Fielder certainly stuck in the minds of Kendrick and the coaching staff, as the Brewers first baseman wasted nary a moment in hitting the first offering into the second deck of right field to give the Brewers a 3-0 lead.
"He should have been pitching around him," Manuel said. "Then he threw a ball right in the middle of the plate.
"Fielder likes to swing. If you walk him, it's not the worst thing in the world, but at the same time, if you can get him to chase -- it looked like he laid the ball right in the middle of the plate. "
"Those two hits, those came on good pitches," Kendrick said. "And then the home run. I made two bad pitches today. One to Fielder, and one to [Rickie] Weeks (on an RBI single in the fourth). That was it. Other than that -- you know, it's baseball.
Unfortunately for Kendrick, it's also a part of baseball that when you struggle, the heat gets turned up. With just 25 games left on the schedule and four off-days mixed in as well, there is a growing sentiment that it may be in the Phillies' best interest to skip a few of his starts or go with someone else.
The second part of that could possibly play out on Monday when the Phillies play a day/night doubleheader against Florida at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies will activate veteran Nate Robertson, who has been primarily a starter in his seven Major League seasons, and rookie Vance Worley, who's pitched one inning with the Phillies, before Monday's games. After the game, the Phillies announced that Worley, who went 10-7 with a combined 3.36 ERA in 27 starts at Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley this year, will start Game 1 against Florida's Adalberth Mendez, who is, coincidentally, making his Major League debut.
"We had a couple of options, but at the same time, [Worley] has been up here," Manuel said. "[The Marlins] haven't seen him. We'll wait and see how he does tomorrow. I want him to be comfortable and see how he is.
"As we go down this month, we will definitely start to talk about our rotation more, once we get some off-days and stuff. We'll see where we are at."
"That's out of my control," Kendrick said. "I've been pitching bad. I felt I pitched well at the beginning of the year, but that's out of my control. I just have to go out there and pitch well."
Mike Radano is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.