Phils' 1st-Round Ouster a Punch in Gut

AP Photo

By losing in the first round of the playoffs, the Phillies fell further and harder than they have since they stood at baseball's summit in 2008. Losing the World Series to the New York Yankees in 2009 was tough. Losing the National League Championship Series to San Francisco last year was tougher still, especially because Phillies fans had to watch the Giants celebrate at Citizens Bank Park.

But this? Squandering a 102-win season and the best starting rotation in baseball? Taking another step backward despite an enormous payroll and a never-ending string of sellout crowds? Losing a winner-takes-all game, at home, to the St. Louis Cardinals?

"I think this one hurts more," manager Charlie Manuel said. "Right now, I've got some anger, I've got some questions,...

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