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News » Philadelphia Phillies Inside Pitch 2009-09-07

Philadelphia Phillies Inside Pitch 2009-09-07

Philadelphia Phillies Inside Pitch 2009-09-07Thirteen weeks removed from right hip surgery, Brett Myers never thought his return to the Phillies would come with a one-run lead against the menacing middle of the Houston Astros' lineup.

So, for Myers, walking off the mound after a scoreless eighth inning was an exhilarating feeling.

Four outings removed from his most recent ninth-inning meltdown, Brad Lidge thought his problems were behind him thanks to corrected mechanics and improved command of his fastball-slider combination.

So, for Lidge, walking off the mound after blowing another save -- his majors-leading 10th -- was a sinking feeling.

They are, perhaps, a pair of late-inning relievers going in opposite directions, and that never was more apparent than Saturday night when Myers preserved a lead that Lidge fumbled in a 5-4 loss to the Astros at Minute Maid Park.

Lidge, lacking the control of a slider that had been so impressive in his last three appearances, loaded the bases on two walks and a hit in the ninth inning before surrendering Kazuo Matsui's two-out, two-run single on a 3-1 fastball.

"It's been very tough, for whatever reason, to repeat my mechanics out of the stretch," Lidge said. "Has it gotten better? Definitely. But three good ones, one bad one, three good ones, one bad one, that's not good enough. I'm going to keep working on it like crazy until it gets to the point where it's nine out of 10, 10 out of 10."

But the Phillies may not have that kind of time.

The playoffs begin in a month, and Lidge is 0-7 with 10 blown saves in 38 chances and a 7.15 ERA that's higher than any reliever with at least 40 innings pitched. Myers, meanwhile, is feeling healthier than he has in two years.

He admitted he was surprised to be called into such a close game (he said he figured he would pitch in Friday night's blowout), and he overcame a four-pitch leadoff walk to Lance Berkman and spotty control of his off-speed pitches to get Carlos Lee and Miguel Tejada to fly out on fastballs.

"Being out there for the first time in three months, a little jumpy," Myers said. "I had some adrenaline going. With a one-run lead, throwing me out there the first time, it was appreciated. I liked it. But it was a little nerve-wracking. You don't expect that."

Myers said he isn't interested in being part of any closer controversy and has pledged his support for Lidge.

"These guys have been doing it all year," Myers said. "I'm not just going to walk in there and go, 'Hey, you sit down. This inning's mine.' That's not how it works. I'm just back there to help. I'm not there to take anybody's spot, for sure."

ASTROS 4, PHILLIES 3: Cole Hamels allowed four runs on eight hits in six innings in a loss at Minute Maid Park. The Phillies have lost three straight games and four of their last five, but they still lead the NL East by 6-1/2 games (eight in the loss column) over the Florida Marlins. Hamels stretched his scoreless-inning streak to 21 games before allowing a run in the fourth inning and four in the fifth. Jimmy Rollins, Ben Francisco and Jayson Werth hit solo homers to account for the Phillies' offense. Raul Ibanez had two hits, only his fifth multi-hit game since July 29.

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Added: September 7, 2009

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