Myers pitches in with lengthy at-bats

Myers pitches in with lengthy at-bats

PHILADELPHIA -- Brett Myers was quick to point out Thursday that he gets paid to pitch -- not to hit.

Could have fooled CC Sabathia.

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Myers, despite coming into Thursday's game with a .116 lifetime batting average, came through in one of the most crucial at-bats of the Phillies' 5-2 win over the Brewers that gave Philly a 2-0 edge in the series.

It wasn't that Myers hit the cover off the ball. No, his second-inning at-bat can best be described as a chess match against one of the most dominant pitchers in the game, while the largest crowd in Citizens Bank Park history -- 46,208 towel-waving fans -- screamed at the tops of their lungs the entire time.

Myers scraped, clawed and fouled off pitch after pitch, eventually drawing a two-out walk that would set the stage for Shane Victorino's game-changing grand slam.

"I know I'm a terrible hitter," Myers said, "but I really can't explain it. It was like one of those freakish things that I was able to lay off some good pitches that he made and extend his pitch count."

That was exactly what the Phillies were aiming to do Thursday.

They were well aware that the seemingly invincible Sabathia was pitching on three days' rest for the fourth start in a row. The antidote to slowing down the towering left-hander, they reasoned, was to be patient, making him throw as many pitches as possible.

In the second inning, the stage was set for a Phillies rally when Pedro Feliz lined a double to left field, scoring Jayson Werth to tie the game. Carlos Ruiz, however, followed with a groundout to first. With Myers coming to the plate, it may have looked like any chances of a Philadelphia rally were about to fizzle.

Myers' at-bats vs. CC
Second inningFourth inning
1. Swinging strike1. Called strike
2. Swinging strike2. Called strike
3. Ball3. Ball
4. Foul ball4. Foul ball
5. Ball in dirt5. Foul ball
6. Foul ball6. Ball
7. Ball in dirt7. Foul ball
8. Foul ball8. Foul ball
9. Ball four9. Ball
10. Flyout to center
"What are the chances of him putting this ball in play?" reliever J.C. Romero recalled saying. "I said, 'Slim to none.'"

But Myers didn't have to put it in play. The chess match began with Sabathia dealing a fastball and changeup that Myers flailed at. Myers recovered, however, watching Sabathia's next pitch, a slider, come in a little too high for a ball.

That's when the crowd started really getting into it. Its volume rose sharply with each ball that Myers ripped foul into the stands or watched miss the strike zone. When Myers finally drew a walk on Sabathia's ninth pitch of the at-bat, the crowd roared.

Checkmate.

"If you allow that to get under your skin -- which, from the reactions that Sabathia gave him, it did -- that's when you know you kind of have a guy," pitcher Cole Hamels said.

The next hitter, Jimmy Rollins, drew a walk on four pitches, and Victorino followed it up by taking advantage of the taxed Sabathia and crushing a grand slam into the left-field seats.

By the time the second inning was over, the Phils had forced Sabathia to throw 51 pitches. And they didn't stop there. Philadelphia knocked the imposing left-hander out of Thursday's game after having thrown 98 pitches in a span of 3 2/3 innings.

Sabathia, known around baseball as an innings-eater, has never before thrown that many pitches in that short of an outing, according to baseball-reference.com and retrosheet.org.

Myers, meanwhile, got the job done on the mound for Philadelphia, holding Milwaukee to two hits in seven innings. In the fifth inning, he knocked a base hit to right field, ensuring that his night will be remembered as one in which he performed well on the mound and at the plate.

"That says something about the character of Brett," first baseman Ryan Howard said. "He's out there competing. He's not up there trying to get three pitches and come back and sit down. He's trying to get on base. Our key was to work CC as much as we could. Those two at-bats were huge."

Kevin Horan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.