BALTIMORE -- Back in March, when it became clear the Phillies would be without Ryan Howard and Chase Utley the first few months of the season, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel and the front office said they would need to pitch well and play solid defense to win.
That had not been a problem in the past.
But lately defense has been a struggle, and it showed up repeatedly in Saturday's 6-4 loss to the Orioles in 12 innings at Camden Yards, giving the Phillies their sixth walk-off loss of the season. The Phillies committed three official errors, but they had other defensive miscues that should have had them entering the bottom of the ninth inning holding a comfortable four-run lead.
Instead, they entered the ninth with the game tied at 4.
"Yeah, we could have shut them out," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "We made some mistakes and it cost us. That's how they scored their three runs. Our mistakes made us real sloppy. Our mistakes definitely hurt us."
Phillies second baseman Mike Fontenot seemed to be at the center of everything.
He couldn't handle a ball hit to him with a runner on first with no outs in the third inning. Instead of a double play, the Orioles had runners on first and second with no outs. The lead runner eventually scored to make it 1-1.
The Phillies committed three errors -- one each from Jimmy Rollins, Vance Worley and Fontenot -- in the fourth inning, leading to a couple runs to give the Orioles a 3-2 lead. Worley was given a throwing error on an attempted force of Nick Johnson at second base, as second-base umpire Fieldin Culbreth did not see Rollins get his foot on the bag.
"I didn't used to be a fan of instant replay, but the more this stuff happens, I'm starting to think it might be necessary," Rollins said.
Of course, Rollins also lamented the error that led to Johnson reaching base in the first place. Rollins simply didn't handle the ball hit his way.
"He doesn't have to make that call, then," Rollins said of Culbreth.
But for a team that is struggling -- the Phillies dropped to 29-32 -- they could have used the correct call in that situation.
"Guys are making good plays, and they're close plays, and they're not getting them right a lot of the time," said Rollins, who spiked the rosin bag in disgust after the call. "Being an umpire is tough. Generally, they get the calls right, but this year, it just seems like it hasn't been getting called correctly -- close plays going one way or the other. For that reason alone, a guy makes a great play, obviously you want to get credit for it. In other sports, when a guy makes a great play and you go back and look at it, give him credit for it. And if he doesn't make a great play, go back and look at it and give him the hit or whatever. Get the call right."
For his part, Worley, who allowed five hits and one earned run in six innings, said he rushed the throw. He said if he would have set his feet properly, he still would have had enough time to throw to second to get Johnson.
Ryan Flaherty followed with a single to center, allowing Johnson to score. Two batters later, Endy Chavez hit a line drive toward Fontenot, which he simply missed, allowing another run to score.
"It was hit at me," Fontenot said. "It was low enough, but I just had my glove in a weird spot. It might have moved, but I'm not going to make that excuse. I should have caught it. It just went off the side and it hit my leg."
It was the first time the Phillies had allowed three errors in one inning since June 13, 2009.
The Phillies tied the game in the fifth, when Hector Luna homered to left. Luna's homer followed solo shots Rollins and Jim Thome, who went deep in the third and fourth, respectively. But the Orioles took a 4-3 lead in the seventh on another couple defensive mistakes. Left-hander Jake Diekman walked J.J. Hardy with one out, and Chris Davis hit a flare to shallow right field. Fontenot pursued and tried to make an over-the-shoulder catch, but he dropped the ball.
It was ruled a hit, but Hardy still could have been thrown out at second, because he waited to see if the ball dropped before running. In fact, he should have been thrown out, but Hunter Pence threw high to Rollins at second base.
Hardy eventually scored to give the Orioles a 4-3 lead.
"It just came out of my glove," Fontenot said. "It hit my glove and just came out."
Thome tied the game with a single in the eighth, but rookie B.J. Rosenberg allowed a two-run homer in the 12th to Adam Jones to give Baltimore the victory, quieting a very vocal Phillies fan base that made the trek south for the game.
"I said to myself, 'It's like it's the last three, four years, having Boston and New York fans raiding this place,'" Jones said. "They're not happy today. The O's fans, they stood up when they needed to. It's a huge sea of red, I can tell you that."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.