No Phillie stands closer to the out-of-town scoreboard than Bryce Harper. It looms over his shoulder in right field at Citizens Bank Park.
Every bulb on that scoreboard tells a story and Harper liked what he saw when he peeked over his shoulder Tuesday night.
The New York Mets lost.
The Atlanta Braves were losing -- and ultimately did.
The Phillies had a chance to shave a game off the Braves' lead in the NL East, but in the end, could not do it. They kicked off an important six-game homestand with a 3-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays and remained 4½ games behind the Braves with 37 to play.
The Phils have lost 9 of their last 13 games -- averaging just 2.8 runs per game over that span -- and are just 63-62 on the season.
"We've got to win games," Harper said after the loss. "It doesn't matter what the other teams are doing or anything like that. If we don't win games, nothing else really matters.
"A lot of teams in our division tonight, from looking at the scoreboard, were going to lose and we lost so we didn't gain any ground. If we're not winning games, we're not going to be where we need to be, so we need to pick up our offense. Our pitching has thrown really well so we need to be able to go out there (Wednesday night) and get some early runs for (Zack) Wheeler.
"As a team, we've got to get better and we need to do it right now. We're wasting time. We've got to get going."
The Phils got a nice start from all-around lifesaver Ranger Suarez -- 6⅔ innings, one run -- but they managed just six hits against four Tampa Bay pitchers and just one for extra bases.
The Rays broke a 1-1 tie with a pair of runs in the top of the eighth against Archie Bradley. The right-hander gave up a hit to the first batter, Brett Phillips, hit the next man, Randy Arozarena, with a pitch, then allowed a two-run double to Nelson Cruz as the Rays surged ahead and never looked back.
The Phils were without Rhys Hoskins, who came off the injured list and had a two-homer game Sunday in San Diego. Hoskins, who had been on the IL with a groin strain, has not been cleared to play two games in a row yet. He will start Wednesday against lefty Ryan Yarbrough.
Representing the tying run, Hoskins was used as a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the ninth inning with a man on base. He worked a full count against right-hander Andrew Kittredge before popping out to first base to end the game. Kittredge struck out four in two scoreless innings. His first 17 pitches were strikes. He threw 26 pitches in all and just four balls.
The Phils need Hoskins, the team leader in homers and RBIs, to be able to get back into the lineup consistently.
But they also need offense beyond him.
"It doesn't matter where it comes from," Girardi said. "There's eight guys in the lineup, so other guys have to pick it up. It can't just be one or two guys."
Girardi placed great importance on this homestand, which includes one more game against Tampa Bay, the best team in the American League, and four against Arizona, the worst team in the National League, but a club that swept three games from the Phils last week in Phoenix.
"I think every game is important, right?" Girardi said before the game. "Because we need to make up some ground. The big thing is that we have a positive homestand. It needs to be a winning homestand."
So far, the Phils are 0-1 with five games to play.