After early exit, Moyer looks for answers

After early exit, Moyer looks for answers

NEW YORK -- Jamie Moyer hopes to find an answer to his pitching problems in a special performance from the past.

It might not be a miracle cure, but he hopes it will help.

Moyer allowed seven runs in just 2 1/3 innings in a 7-5 loss to the Mets on Thursday night at Citizens Bank Park. It was his shortest start since May 11, 2005, when he allowed six runs in 2 1/3 innings against the Yankees.

It also was the fourth time in Moyer's career that he allowed seven or more earned runs in fewer than three innings. He yielded seven runs in two innings July 30, 1993, against the Red Sox. He gave up seven runs in 1 2/3 innings May 30, 1993, against the Angels. And he allowed seven runs in 1 1/3 innings Aug. 11, 1986, against the Pirates.

So how could the past help Moyer?

Moyer, who is 3-2 with a 7.26 ERA, certainly will not relive the past by studying film from Thursday's start. He knows what he did wrong. He left the ball up in the strike zone. He kept the ball over the middle of the plate.

Those things are why Carlos Beltran, David Wright and Jose Reyes each hit home runs against him.

No, Moyer will look for positive reinforcement instead. He will look toward one of the best starts of his career: June 10, 2002, against the Cardinals. Moyer, pitching at home for the Mariners, threw a shutout. He allowed just five hits. He threw 120 pitches, 83 for strikes.

It was a masterful performance from a pitcher who is one win away from 250 career wins.

"I'm just watching it to watch," Moyer said. "Just watching myself. My body movements. The way the ball approaches the plate. To me, you reiterate the positives. To go back and sit and watch a poor game or a bad outing ... personally, for me, I don't believe in it. It just reiterates the negative."

But it isn't just Moyer looking for answers. The entire rotation is struggling, and this week illustrated how much. Joe Blanton had his best start of the season Monday in St. Louis, only to have Brett Myers follow with his worst Tuesday. Chan Ho Park saved his job in the rotation with six shutout innings Wednesday against the Mets, but Moyer followed with one of the worst starts of his career Thursday.

Phillies starters have a 6.60 ERA, the worst mark in baseball, after they had a 4.23 ERA last season, which ranked seventh in the National League.

"Last year is over," Moyer said. "To me, you reestablish. I think you've got to reestablish individually. I'm a big believer that you can feed off each other. I've seen it happen in the past. You go through a couple turns, and guys start to get moving in a good direction, and you feed off that. You try to match it. It's just a matter of each guy finding it individually and moving forward. It's not that we don't know how. We did last year. It's a rut. If we got to go through it, now may be a good time to go through it early."

Moyer left in the third with the Phillies trailing, 7-1. Left-hander J.A. Happ threw 3 2/3 scoreless innings to keep him the favorite to step into the rotation should the Phils decide they need to make a change down the line.

The Phillies chipped away at the Mets' lead with Jayson Werth, who went 4-for-4, hitting a two-run home run in the eighth inning. But Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez threw a scoreless ninth to pick up his ninth save.

The first few innings made a comeback unlikely, even for a team that has had plenty of comeback victories this season.

"That's kind of who we've got," manager Charlie Manuel said of his starting pitchers. "They've got to get a chance. I've got confidence in them. You've got to see what they can do. Will there come a point? Probably. We'll consider doing anything we have to do."

Right now, Moyer is hoping the past can save him.

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