LOS ANGELES -- Carlos Ruiz leaned forward in his locker with his elbows on his knees, his hands clasped in front of him and the look of utter disappointment on his face.
Jonathan Papelbon quietly packed his bags.
Hunter Pence said this week there is no tomorrow for the Phillies, considering their position in the National League standings and the July 31 Trade Deadline standing a mere 13 days away. That is why Wednesday's 5-3 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 12 innings at Dodger Stadium felt a little like a loss in October.
"Tough," Papelbon said.
"It was a real tough loss," manager Charlie Manuel echoed.
Cliff Lee and Clayton Kershaw dueled to a 1-1 tie through eight innings before Manuel used four relievers in the ninth inning to work out of a jam and send the game into extra innings. Manuel managed this game like a postseason game, which made sense. If the Phillies had won Wednesday they would have finished 5-1 on the road trip through Colorado and Los Angeles, moving to nine games under .500 and taking plenty of momentum into this weekend's series against the San Francisco Giants at Citizens Bank Park.
But after Pence singled to score two runs to give the Phillies a 3-1 lead in the 10th -- it would have been Pence's second game-winning hit in as many days -- Papelbon allowed two runs to blow his third save of the season.
Jake Diekman allowed a two-run home run to Matt Kemp in the 12th to end it.
The Phillies (41-52) finished the trip 4-2, falling back to 11 under .500.
In any other season at any other time, a 4-2 trip out West is a success. But the Phillies are on a team on the brink, and so one wonders. Go on a tear and the Phillies could be buyers before the Deadline. Stay far enough below .500 and the front office could sell.
"We've got to try to win every series from here on out," said a subdued Papelbon.
Even if the Phillies win every series before the Trade Deadline, they will be 47-55, or eight games under .500.
Would that be good enough? It remains to be seen.
"We've got to look at the bigger picture and realize we came on the road and took two series to start after the break," Papelbon said. "This is the kind of start that we needed. Should we have swept these guys? Yeah, sure. But we have to stay positive and look at the big picture and know that we came out after the All-Star break and did our job and won two series. ... I think if we sit here and say we would've, could've, should've, that's not going to work. We've got to stay positive and stay focused on the task at hand."
Papelbon allowed a leadoff double in the 10th to Luis Cruz, who scored on Bobby Abreu's bloop single to left field to make it 3-2. Abreu stole second and moved to third on Tony Gwynn's swinging bunt single. Papelbon struck out Mark Ellis for the second out, but Kemp hit a deep ball in the hole between third and short. Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins made a nice spin and throw, but Kemp beat the throw by a step to allow Gwynn to score the tying run.
Double, bloop, bunt, ball in the hole.
"He got some freak hits," Manuel said.
There seemed to be some bad luck involved, but the Phillies certainly caught a few breaks of their own. They just couldn't close it.
"We know what we've got to do and how we've got to play," Manuel said. "This is tough, but at the same time I don't know what we can do about it now. Just move on, go home, wait until Friday and go get 'em.
"We won two series. At the same time, we go home 4-2 instead of 5-1. The one game, that's big right now for us."
Every game is big. Important decisions have to be made soon. Familiar faces could be traded. Wednesday's loss didn't help.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.