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Myers finds form against Nationals

Myers finds form against Nationals
WASHINGTON (AP) - Seven shutout innings, spotting his fastball right where he wanted to, even pretending to argue with his manager when it was time to leave - it's been a while since Philadelphia's Brett Myers had such a good time on the mound.

Facing the Washington Nationals will do that for a pitcher.

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Myers won for the first time since May, Chase Utley backed him with a two-run homer, and the Phillies beat the worst-in-the-majors Nationals 2-1 Tuesday night.

"If they lose faith in me, I'd probably lose faith in myself. But they've had faith in me all along and I knew I could do it," said Myers (4-9), who only allowed an unearned run in the eighth inning.

It was his second start since being demoted to the minors to try to revive his confidence and shake a season-long funk. When manager Charlie Manuel came out of the dugout after an error put runners on first and second with no outs in the eighth, Myers made like a man who had no intention of departing.

"I kind of yelled at him for a minute, but it was funny because it looked like he was speechless after I did that," Myers said. "Now he knows I was kidding with him, but I didn't want to come out of the game."

Manuel's take?

"He was goofing off, like always. In some ways that's a good sign," the manager said, then noted that it's not a good idea to upset the skipper.

Still, there's nothing to be angry about when it comes to the Phillies' pitching on this night, which also included Brad Lidge's 25th save in 25 chances.

"Brett pitched outstanding," Utley said. "He was throwing strikes early in the count and getting ahead of guys."

Utley provided all the offense Philadelphia needed by driving a 1-0 pitch from Collin Balester (1-3) over the wall in right after Jimmy Rollins singled in the third inning.

"One mistake," Balester said.

Utley's 26th homer was his first since July 7, snapping a 14-game, 58-at-bat drought.

Before the game, Manuel was asked if he thought Utley looked healthy. Maybe Utley's hip was bothering him? Maybe some other ailment?

Nope, Manuel assured everyone. Sometimes the homers don't come. And sometimes they do.

A few hours later, Utley provided an important one for the Phillies, who remained a half-game behind the Mets in the NL East.

"I never really felt that bad. Obviously when you don't get results, it's frustrating, but you have to stick with it," said Utley, who pronounced himself healthy.

Philadelphia didn't advance a runner past second in any other inning. But that was OK, because they were facing a Nationals team that hadn't had a runner cross the plate since Friday.

The Nationals have lost seven straight games overall - and their last 14 that were decided by one or two runs. They have scored a majors-low 389 runs, under 3.7 per game, and have a total of three runs in their past five games.

"The offense - it's been a struggle the whole season," Washington manager Manny Acta said.

They managed to repeatedly stall their own efforts Tuesday.

Paul Lo Duca earned a leadoff walk in the third, but was tagged out after getting caught in a rundown. In the fourth, Myers hit Ronnie Belliard, but Ryan Zimmerman grounded into a double play. In the seventh, Zimmerman got caught in a rundown with two outs.

"A dumb mistake," Zimmerman acknowledged. "You can't let that kind of stuff happen there. Learn from it and move on."

Finally, in the eighth, Washington scored, piecing together a single by Lo Duca, Utley's fielding error, a sacrifice bunt and Willie Harris' RBI groundout to get within 2-1.

Myers left after the error, pantomiming a tiff with Manuel before tipping his cap as he left to cheers from the thousands of Phillies fans in the announced crowd of 34,039. His line: seven-plus innings, one unearned run, four hits, a walk, two strikeouts.

And his first win since May 30, only his second win in 15 outings.

"Tonight," Myers said, "was fun for me."


Nationals SS Cristian Guzman (bruised left thumb) missed a third consecutive start, but he pinch-ran in the eighth, then played defense in the ninth. He'll have a precautionary MRI exam Wednesday. ... Phillies 3B Pedro Feliz went on the DL.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: July 30, 2008

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