PHILADELPHIA -- It had been inevitable, but it is finally official.
Friday's 2-1 loss to the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park eliminated the Phillies from the 2012 postseason. It will be the first time since '06 they will not pop champagne bottles in a clubhouse celebration. It will be the first time in six years they will watch the postseason like everybody else: from their couches and recliners.
"It's disappointing," Phillies left-hander Cliff Lee said. "I think everybody here could agree with that. We expected to win this division and make the postseason and win the World Series ultimately. But obviously that's not going to happen now. We've got to finish out this year strong and play the game the right way."
The only goal for the Phillies at this point is finishing the season with a winning record. They will have to go 4-1 to do that, or 3-2 to finish at .500. But the Phillies, who were 14 games under .500 on July 13, have been struggling as the season comes to its conclusion, losing five of their last six games.
"That's getting tough, too," manager Charlie Manuel said of finishing 4-1. "We're kind of dragging right now. But that's no excuse for us not to score some runs."
Marlins left fielder Bryan Petersen hit a leadoff double in the ninth inning to spark the game-winning rally. After a Jose Reyes groundout, Phillies right-hander Joshn Lindblom intentionally walked Giancarlo Stanton to put runners on first and second. Carlos Lee singled to left field to score Petersen to win it.
The Phillies' Lee did his part Friday. He pitched splendidly, allowing three hits, one run and striking out five in seven innings. But his night followed a familiar path: No run support.
He allowed a home run to Stanton in the fourth inning to give Miami a 1-0 lead. It appeared to be plenty as Marlins left-hander Mark Buehrle completely shut down the Phillies' offense. He allowed three hits in the second inning, but Ty Wigginton ended the inning when he overran third base on an infield single from Michael Martinez.
Buehrle would retire the next 14 batters he faced until Wigginton singled to left field with two outs in the seventh.
But John Mayberry Jr. started the eighth inning with a double to left field. And after Martinez's fielder's choice moved Mayberry to third, Manuel had Erik Kratz pinch-hit for Lee. But Kratz popped up to second baseman Donovan Solaro for the second out.
Jimmy Rollins followed with a single to left field to score Mayberry to tie the game.
Lee would not take the loss, but he will enter his final start of the season Wednesday in Washington at 6-8 with a 3.12 ERA.
"Lee was outstanding," Manuel said.
"It's just one of those things," Lee said. "You've got to give Buehrle some credit there. He kept us from scoring a run until J-Roll came through with two outs in the eighth. That was a big hit by him. Buehrle got it done. There's a reason why he's been throwing as long as he has. He's a pretty good pitcher."
The Phillies won a franchise-record 102 games last season, but they could become just the sixth team in baseball history to follow a 100-win season with a losing season.
They can still finish with a winning record.
But the postseason? That will have to wait until next year.
"Somebody just had to win a game, didn't they?" Manuel said, referring to the fact St. Louis only needed to win one game to eliminate the Phillies. "Of course a game is hard to win sometimes."
"We'll try to come in next Spring Training and play the game the right way," Lee said, "try to come in next Spring Training and start off better. That's what got us. We got ourselves in a pretty good hole early. It was too big of a hole to dig ourselves out of. We played really well the second half. We definitely made our season more respectable. Considering how bad we were in the first half, we were really fortunate to be where we were these last two weeks."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.