Philadelphia Phillies trying to hold on, end lengthy postseason drought

Nothing has come easy this year for the Philadelphia Phillies, who are trying to reach the postseason for the first time in over a decade.

They started poorly, going 22-29 before manager Joe Girardi was fired. New skipper Rob Thompson won his first eight games, but not long after that, Bryce Harper went down with a broken thumb. While he was out, the Phillies played well enough that they were in the National League's second wild-card spot when he returned late last month, but now they've dropped six of seven.

Philadelphia hasn't made the playoffs since 2011, the second-longest drought in the majors. The Phillies are overshadowed somewhat by Seattle, which is in good shape to make the postseason for the first time since 2001, but a playoff appearance would also be a key step for Philadelphia, now in its fourth season since signing Harper.

After losing 5-3 to San Francisco on Sunday on a ninth-inning homer by Wilmer Flores, the Phillies are 2 1/2 games ahead of Milwaukee for the final NL wild card. They were swept three straight by the Giants after dropping two of three at Arizona.

The schedule becomes pretty friendly now. Philadelphia plays its next nine games against Miami and Washington teams that are well below .500. It's an opportunity for the Phillies to determine just how stressful the final days of the season will be.