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News » Myers struggles, but Phillies beat Cardinals to move into first place

Myers struggles, but Phillies beat Cardinals to move into first place

Myers struggles, but Phillies beat Cardinals to move into first place
ST. LOUIS - There's no pretty way to say this, so here it is straight: The Phillies' starting rotation has a combined earned run average of 6.54.

Despite that, the defending world champions have won eight of their last 10 and now rest in first place of the National League East for the first time this season.

After nearly 50 years in Baseball, manager Charlie Manuel has a couple of pretty solid thoughts about those seemingly conflicting facts.

It's gratifying.

It can't last.

"I'm concerned, because we're giving up too many runs," Manuel said, repeating a sentiment he's had to offer far more often than he would care to this early in the season. "We can't keep giving up five, six, seven, eight, nine runs."

In last night's win, a 10-7 shootout against the Cardinals at Busch Stadium, Brett Myers qualified for the victory despite giving up five runs on nine hits in 5 1/3 innings. His earned run average actually went up, from 4.83 to 5.35. And he gave up another pair of home runs, swelling his total for the season to 10 in only 37 innings pitched.

It's not only Myers, either. Phillies pitchers have now surrendered 46 home runs in 24 games. Ouch.

And while Manuel made it clear that Myers has plenty of company when it comes to starting pitchers who need to be better, his outing was the one up for discussion last night.

"His fastball does not have the velocity and the movement," Manuel said. "He definitely has to locate better. He used to be 92 to 95 [miles an hour], and, every once in a while, he was getting it up to 96. [Last night], he was topping out at 87 or 88 miles an hour, at least on the scoreboard.

"He's giving up home runs because of the mistakes he's making, and his stuff doesn't play up the way it used to."

Responded Myers: "That [radar] gun was off. It said some of the fastballs were in the 80s. Even [Cardinals starter Adam] Wainwright had some in the 80s. Well, I was batting against him, and there was no way those pitches were 80."

Myers also disagreed with the observation that he wasn't locating his pitches. He said the fastball Cardinals rightfielder Ryan Ludwick hit out in the fourth was a "good pitch, outer half" and the one catcher Yadier Molina hit moments later was inside and at eye level.

"I was befuddled by the whole thing," he said.

Manuel said Myers isn't hurt, although the 28-year-old righthander said he was nauseated when he came to the park last night.

"That's not an excuse, but I didn't feel too good," he said.

The Phillies have now scored at least 10 runs five times already this season and are on a nice, little roll heading into their first-ever trip to Citi Field to play the Mets, starting tonight.

Shane Victorino had four hits, including a homer and a double, and scored three runs last night. He has hit in 14 straight.

Jayson Werth hit his second home run in as many nights.

The Phillies , who easily could have overlooked the two games against the Cardinals, coming between two series against the rival Mets, didn't miss a beat offensively. They had 15 hits last night, even though All-Star second baseman Chase Utley was on the bench with a sore right foot. It was an impressive sweep on the road against a team with one of Baseball's best records.

At the same time, the nagging thought in the back of Manuel's mind is that it will be a long, uphill slog unless the starters right themselves.

There was a ray of hope Monday night when Joe Blanton had his best start of the season, but Myers struggled again, and Chan Ho Park is scheduled to face Mets ace Johan Santana tonight. On paper at least, that's a mismatch.

Myers got off to such a poor start a year ago that he found himself back in the minors for a tutorial. And it worked. He came back and was an integral part of the Phillies push to the World Series, going 7-4 with a 3.06 ERA in his final 13 starts of the regular season.

He said he didn't see any similarities to what he's going through this year.

"I'm just trying to get to the point where I can repeat my pitches," he said. "Right now, I'm making three good ones, and then I make three bad ones."

The Phillies , of course, can play home run derby, too. They started the night leading the NL in that category and the ones by Victorino and Werth raised their total to 35.

The Phillies ended up needing every bit of that offense. In fact, it was a blueprint for the kind of game most expected to be typical in 2008. That was when it was expected that they would have to outslug the other teams most nights to cover up for questionable pitching.

The reality, of course, was that the lineup never really clicked in the second half and that the Phillies won the World Series largely because both the rotation and bullpen were consistently good.

Myers was a big part of that. Manuel is hoping that the rotation will turn itself around sooner rather than later.

"Once we get our pitching going, we're going to be good," he said confidently. *

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: May 6, 2009

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