Their hopes came to a halt Friday following a 2-1 loss to the Miami Marlins eliminating them from playoff contention.
"It's disappointing," said Phillies starter Cliff Lee. "I think everyone here could agree with that. We expected to win this division, make the postseason, and win the World Series ultimately. Obviously that's not going to happen now."
Carlos Lee's game-winning single in the bottom of the ninth inning lifted the Miami Marlins to the win snapping a season-high seven-game losing streak and prevented the Phillies from reaching the postseason for the first time in six years.
"That was a matter of time," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "Right now we're kind of dragging, but that's no excuse for us not to score some runs."
The Phillies overcame a horrible first half with a 37-50 record at the All-Star Break and came from way behind to get within three games of St. Louis for the second wild card spot. But they lost five of the next six to fall out of the chase.
"We got ourselves in a pretty big hole early," Cliff Lee said. "It was too big of a hole to dig ourselves out of. We played really well in the second half, made our season definitely more respectable, but considering how bad we were in the first half we were very fortunate to be where we were these past few weeks."
Bryan Petersen began the ninth with a double to right field off Josh Lindblom (3-4).
"We thought that Lindblom could get that guy out," Manuel said. "He had him 0-2 and he ended up getting ahead, a guy that's hitting .205 against righties."
Jose Reyes grounded out and Giancarlo Stanton was intentionally walked setting up the at-bat with Lee. Lee lined a single to left-center field scoring Petersen from second as Laynce Nix's throw to home was off-line for the Marlins eighth walk-off win of the season.
"As soon as I hit it, I knew it was over the shortstop's head and the game was over," Carlos Lee said.
Steve Cishek (5-2) pitched one inning in relief for the win.
"We've got to give our fans our best effort." Carlos Lee said. "We know we're out of it, but they deserve the best from us."
Stanton hit his 35th home run and doubled for the Marlins in his return after missing the previous nine games with an oblique strain.
"It looked like a script," Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said. "This kid comes out with a double and a home run. 'What's going on here?' Like I said, this kid's got the opportunity to be one of the best players in the game. When you see him in the lineup, obviously the lineup looks a little bit different."
With Miami holding a 1-0 lead, John Mayberry led off the eighth with a double to left off Buehrle for the Phillies. Buehrle retired the next two batters, but could not escape unscathed as Jimmy Rollins drove in Mayberry with a line drive base hit to left to tie the game 1-1.
Buehrle pitched eight innings allowing one run and six hits. He struck out eight as he surpassed the 200-inning mark for the 12th consecutive season.
"Obviously, it's nice," Buehrle said. "I wished some other stuff would have happened_numbers better and team playing better to get to 200."
Cliff Lee allowed one run and three hits in seven innings while striking out five and not allowing a walk. He is 4-1 with a 1.07 ERA in his last seven starts.
"It's one of those things where you have to give Buehrle some credit there, he kept us from scoring a run until J-Ro came through with two outs there in the eighth," Cliff Lee said. "That was a big hit by him, but Buehrle got it done. There's a reason why he's been throwing as long as he has."
The Phillies recorded three singles in the second inning, but Buehrle got out of the jam when Ty Wiggington over-ran third base and was thrown out by Donovan Solano following an infield single by Michael Martinez.
After the baserunning miscue by Wiggington, Buehrle retired the next 14 batters in a row.
Stanton's solo home run, estimated at 419 feet, off Lee in the fourth gave the Marlins a 1-0 lead.
NOTES: Lee has pitched at least six innings without allowing more than one walk in his last 16 starts, a modern-era Major League record. ... Stanton also missed 25 games in July due to knee surgery. ... Phillies 1B Ryan Howard has one hit in 21 at-bats with eight strikeouts against Miami this season. ... Buehrle surpassed 200 innings for the 12th straight season. ... Phillies RHP Roy Halladay (10-8, 4.40 ERA) will face Marlins RHP Ricky Nolasco (12-12, 4.35 ERA) Saturday.