Feliz hits slam, but Myers' woes continue

Feliz hits slam, but Myers' woes continue

ARLINGTON -- Brett Myers stopped for no one, as he stormed from the visitors' clubhouse, angry and confused. He had nothing to say about his latest performance.

He said it all with a disastrous third inning that led to the Phillies' 8-7 loss to the Rangers on Friday night at Rangers Ballpark.

"I have no idea," said catcher Chris Coste, who normally has at least a theory on a pitcher's struggles. "I can't even begin to explain it. I could try to make something up and sound all smart and clever, but honestly, I have no clue. It's unfortunate."

Unintentionally, Coste summed up the feelings of manager Charlie Manuel, pitching coach Rich Dubee and many of the Phillies' decision-makers, who will try to sort out the shortest start of Myers' career and his worst performance of the season.

Despite surrendering a home run on his second pitch to Ian Kinsler, the evening had promise for the beleaguered starter. Pedro Feliz unloaded on a Kason Gabbard offering to cap a five-run second inning, giving Myers a four-run lead to protect.

Pitching in 97-degree heat in hitter-friendly Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, against baseball's highest-scoring team, Myers wilted. The right-hander allowed a double, two singles and two walks, giving Texas two runs back without an out recorded.

Watching his Opening Day starter force in a run with a walk was too much for Manuel, who angrily tossed his gum and lifted Myers. Before the game, Manuel surveyed the balmy afternoon and commented that it was "hitting weather," not realizing how right he would be.

"He had a tough outing," Manuel said.

When it was over, Myers was charged with five runs on five hits and four walks in two-plus innings, and the Phils suffered their 12th loss in 16 games. The Marlins beat the D-backs, climbing within a game of the National League East lead.

Myers' walks infuriated Manuel.

"It was his command," the skipper said. "He was close to the plate on those players that he walked, but you have to throw the ball over the plate. It looked like he was making sure that he didn't get the ball on the good part of the plate.

"Can I say his job is secure? I don't know what to say. We have to find somebody to do his job first. Those are the things we'll discuss. When things go bad, we're always concerned and we discuss things."
-- Charlie Manuel, on Brett Myers

"There's a time when you're getting jammed and you have to throw quality pitches over the plate. They stand a chance of getting hit, yeah, but there comes a time when you have to say, 'I have to get this guy out, and how am I going to do it?' You can't go out there trying to trick 'em and nibble. You have to throw your best pitch.

"He didn't get it done."

Myers has allowed four runs or more in 10 of his 16 starts, and is 0-3 with an 8.57 ERA in his past four starts. His next start, scheduled for Thursday in Atlanta, could be in question.

"Can I say his job is secure?" Manuel said. "I don't know what to say. We have to find somebody to do his job first. Those are the things we'll discuss. When things go bad, we're always concerned and we discuss things. I told you a few outings ago, we tried to get him right, and we'll go from there. Tonight was rough for him. We had a 5-1 lead and he gives it back in one inning."

The Phillies are 4-13 when Myers starts.

Clay Condrey nearly got out of the bases-loaded, no-out jam in relief. Former Phillie Marlon Byrd rapped into a double play, allowing the fourth run to score, but rookie Chris Davis smacked the first home run of his career.

"A sinker that didn't sink," Condrey said.

Coste tied the game with a homer off Gabbard in the fourth, but Milton Bradley delivered a go-ahead home run in the fifth. The score stayed that way until Texas added an insurance run in the eighth, and the Rangers would need it to stave off Jayson Werth's home run off C.J. Wilson in the ninth.

The once-potent Phillies offense, which came into the game averaging 1.9 runs and batting .181 in the previous eight games, got seven hits. Jimmy Rollins, Pat Burrell and Ryan Howard combined to go 0-for-9 with five strikeouts.

Howard is 4-for-32 (.114) with 15 strikeouts since June 16, when he slugged two home runs against the Red Sox.

Offense aside, Myers' confidence continues to take a hit. The problem may lie with options. Manuel loves what Chad Durbin gives him out of the bullpen, and he is reluctant to change that. Kris Benson is scheduled to throw a Minor League start on Sunday for Triple-A Lehigh Valley, and the Phillies will watch him closely.

They'll simultaneously hope for a sign from Myers, who has been nothing like the co-ace with Cole Hamels the team hoped he'd be.

"Our expectation of Myers is always an 18-, 20-game winner," Manuel said. "When the season started, I said in order for us to win, we needed 16 to 20 wins out of him. That's how we always evaluated him. His talent's always was there. Right now, things aren't going too well for him. He's having trouble."

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