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Phillies offense comes to a halt resulting in a series loss to the Reds originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

It was almost a rhetorical question. How long, Rob Thomson was asked idly, would he be willing to wait for the rain to abate to the point where Tuesday’s scheduled game against the Reds could be played?

Grin. Shrug. “As long as it takes,” the Phillies manager, sitting in his Citizens Bank Park office, said. Not literally, of course, his demeanor seemed to suggest. He was fairly confident, he added, that an on-time start was realistic.

That was a few minutes before 2 p.m.

The actual start time: 8 p.m. The official delay was three hours and 55 minutes. (Unofficially, add another three hours since the time listed on your handy pocket schedule had already been pushed back late Tuesday night.) Either way the ground hold was lengthy enough for a rumor to start – and be formally denied – that the reason the teams didn’t just try, try again Thursday was because it would have conflicted with a wedding that had been scheduled for the Diamond Club.

And after all that drama and down time, well, let’s just say nothing that followed was worth the wait. Especially for the Phillies and the small but hardy band of fans who stuck around through the long day’s journey into night.

The Phillies lost, 4-1. They are now off to a 2-4 start after dropping two of three to Cincinnati.

They wasted another strong start by ace Zack Wheeler, who is 0-1 despite an 0.75 earned run average. They had a chance to come back in the sixth but left the bases loaded. The conditions were playable, but raw and uncomfortable.

The star-studded, gold-played lineup is batting .223. A team with soaring goals already has a minus-14 run differential.

“We’re a better offensive club than we’re showing,” manager Rob Thomson said. “It’ll come. I have all the confidence in the world. Those were tough conditions, but no excuses. They had to go through the same things.”

The announced temperature was 46 degrees, but the unannounced wind chill index – the “feels like” temperature – was 37. The drizzle began again in the seventh.

Both catchers, J.T. Realmuto of the Phillies and Tyler Stephenson for the Reds, were unable to hang onto pop fouls in the early innings because of the swirling winds; Cincinnati second baseman Jonathan India had to take a Great Circle Route before catching up with Bryson Stott’s pop up in the second.

The Phillies didn’t do much early against Cincinnati starter Frankie Montas. And by the time Kyle Schwarber led off the sixth with his second homer of the year, a dart just inside the right field foul pole, the Reds had already scratched out three runs against Wheeler, only one of them earned.

Wheeler appeared to have overwhelming stuff. He struck out 10 and walked one. He gave up three hits.

But after Reds DH Nick Martini led off the second by reaching on an error by Stott, Wheeler hit India with a pitch with one out then gave up a two-out double to Christian Encarnacion-Strand.

Wheeler insisted he isn’t frustrated that the Phillies haven’t hit their stride more quickly. “It is what it is,” he said. “There’s nothing we can do about it now. Just have to play a little more consistent and we’ll be right where we want to be.”

With two outs and nobody on in the sixth, Reds rightfielder Jake Fraley lifted a long fly to right that appeared to momentarily befuddle Nick Castellanos. The ball hit off the fence for a double and Fraley scored when Elly De La Cruz followed with another two-bagger.

“Casty was telling me that the new scoreboard (that replaced the old out-of-town scoreboard in right), he’s got to get used to it,” Thomson said. “He feels like he’s right on top of it and he’s not. He’s got a lot more room. So it might take a little time, but he’ll figure that out.”

Montas appeared to settle down after the Schwarbomb, getting two quick outs, before a J.T. Realmuto single and walks to Stott and Castellanos loaded the bases. Reds manager David Bell brought in lefthander Justin Wilson with Brandon Marsh coming to the plate, leaving Thomson with a decision.

The Phillies can envision a future in which Marsh is their everyday leftfielder. Before that can happen, though, he has to prove he can consistently hit lefthanded pitching. With the game potentially on the line Wednesday night, the manager gave him an audition. Marsh popped out.

Thomson said letting Marsh hit was an easy decision. “Not at all,” the manager said. “He’d had two great at bats prior to that. They were off a righty but he’s got to get lefthanded reps. His at bats against lefties have actually been pretty good.”

He added that he was saving Alec Bohm, who didn’t start Tuesday, to hit for Johan Rojas two batters later.

In the end, the only good thing Wednesday was that the Phillies and Reds didn’t have to test how much longer “as long as it takes” could have lasted.

UP NEXT: After an open date Thursday, the Phillies will go on the road for the first time this season beginning with a weekend series at Nationals Park.

RHP Aaron Nola (0-1, 14.54) will start Friday at 6:45 p.m. followed by LHP Rangers Suarez (0-0, 5.40) Saturday at 4:05 p.m. and LHP Cristopher Sanchez (0-0, 3.60) Sunday at 1:35 p.m. As of Wednesday night, Washington had not announced its rotation.

SHORT STOPS: The first time through the rotation, 3-4-5 starters Ranger Suarez, Cristopher Sanchez and Spencer Turnbull combined for just two walks in 15 innings. . .The Phillies have made some safety adjustments in the camera wells adjacent to the dugouts. That was prompted by Bryce Harper tumbling over the railing chasing a pop foul last weekend against the Braves. . .Whit Merrifield started at third base Wednesday night. He last started at the hot corner for the Royals in 2017. He played the final two innings at third Sunday but didn’t have a ball hit his way.

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