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Garcia shows rust as Phils fall to Mets

Garcia shows rust as Phils fall to Mets

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PHILADELPHIA -- After two weeks recovering from an injury, then two more days waiting for a nor'easter to pass, the Phillies unwrapped their prized offseason acquisition.

The Mets were grateful for the new toy, pelting starter Freddy Garcia with eight hits in 4 2/3 laborious innings, though the right-hander escaped by having allowed just three runs. The bullpen did the rest, and the Mets cruised to an 8-1 win at Citizens Bank Park.

"Not really," said Garcia, when asked if he was satisfied just to make his 2007 season debut. "I was happy to be pitching, but not with the result. I need to do better next time."

He would have had to do much better if he was to best veteran Tom Glavine, who notched career win No. 293 by beating the Phillies for the second time in five days. Philadelphia's lone run came on a bases-loaded walk to Ryan Howard, and the Phillies went 0-for-13 with runners in scoring position, dropping their season average to .200 in that department.

For that, the offense must take its share of the blame.

"It's very frustrating," said Chase Utley, who has combined with Howard to hit 5-for-32 (.156) with runners in scoring position this season. "Hitting is contagious. We have to stay positive. The only way to get out of it is to battle out of it. Baseball is a game of failure, and you have to learn how to deal with it. One guy can get it started."

That guy wasn't available on Tuesday, and hasn't been seen much this season. The last Phillies team to start a season 3-9 was the 1997 team that totaled 68 wins. That team was in the early stages of a rebuilding plan under then-manager Terry Francona. These Phillies aren't rebuilding.

"We're a lot better than that," Aaron Rowand said. "We're going to win a lot more games than that, I guarantee you. We're not worried. With this lineup and who we have personnel-wise, there's not a doubt in my mind what we're capable of. We just need to play better. We haven't played bad. We've just played bad enough to lose."

The acquisition of Garcia, a 17-game winner from the White Sox -- for Minor Leaguers Gio Gonzalez and Gavin Floyd -- was hailed as the crowning offseason achievement. A trio of Garcia, Brett Myers and Cole Hamels was hailed as formidable, and a quintet that included Adam Eaton and Jamie Moyer prompted Jimmy Rollins to proclaim the Phillies "the team to beat."

Garcia's Phillies debut was delayed until April 17 because of a bout with right biceps tendinitis. On a 46-degree night that got colder by the minute, the right-hander labored for 95 pitches, one of which resulted in a two-run home run by Mets outfielder Moises Alou.

His decreased velocity this spring, which bottomed out at 76 mph on the Spring Training start against Toronto, had been a concern. Garcia stayed in the 87-88 mph range with his fastball, and topped out at 91 on at least two of his six strikeouts, against Carlos Delgado and Alou.

"I got to 95 [pitches]," Garcia said. "Next time, I'll to get to 110 or more."

"Tonight was Freddy's first time out, and he pitched OK," manager Charlie Manuel said. "Once he got loose, he had good stuff."

Alou's second-inning homer -- the first of his two on the evening -- gave the Mets a lead they would never relinquish, and handed the Phillies their ninth loss in 12 games, and the eighth in 10 games against an NL East rival.

Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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