Most of the Phillies looked and acted like they just crawled out of a car crash Friday night after the Cardinals blanked the NL East champs 1-0 to take the decisive NLDS game.

Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge spoke softly with blank expressions as each noted that the Phillies are the best team in baseball.

And they were — during the regular season. But for the second year in a row, the Phils’ playoff run ended prematurely while another team celebrated on their field and spilled bubbly in the visiting clubhouse.

“It sucks,” Ryan Howard said, fielding questions on crutches after rupturing his left Achilles tendon. “It’s very frustrating.”

 

It sure is, considering no Phillies team has ever started a season with such great expectations.

Ruben Amaro had a seemingly foolproof plan. The determined GM assembled a squad led by an elite group of “four aces”: Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt.

Halladay, at least, did his part. He won Game 1 against St. Louis and pitched well enough to take Game 5, too. But as Charlie Manuel has said on numerous occasions, “You don’t win many games if you don’t score no runs.”

The Phillies came up with zilch in support of their supreme ace — and that’s one of the reasons they were bounced way too early.

Perhaps the Phillies would still be playing if Cliff Lee held onto the four-run lead in Game 2. The fan favorite admitted that he cost his team.

“I didn’t do my job,” Lee said. “If I did, maybe we would have swept them, but we lost the game. We didn’t win that game, and the season is over. All I can say is that we’ll be back next year.”

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