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Moyer rebounds, but Phils' bats quiet

Moyer rebounds, but Phils' bats quiet

CINCINNATI -- Jamie Moyer sounded like he needed a nap and some soup Wednesday night at Great American Ball Park.

He has been sick for more than a week.

But he looked better on the mound, which was an encouraging sign for the Phillies even in defeat. The Phils lost to the Reds, 5-1, which snapped their five-game winning streak, but Moyer allowed three runs in six innings following one of the worst three-start stretches of his career. It was his second-best start of the season.

"It's not about me. It's about us," Moyer said. "We didn't win, that's first and foremost. When we win, it's a good day, regardless of how well or how poor you pitched. I did some things I wanted to do. But enough positive results still aren't there. Was it a bad night? No. But am I happy I threw decently and we lost? No, not at all."

He paused.

"I'd like to get rid of this damn cold, too," he said.

Moyer went 0-2 with a 13.87 ERA in his previous three starts, which was his worst stretch since he went 0-1 with a 15.30 ERA in three starts from May 6-18, 2005, with the Mariners. That had many people in a quiet panic because Moyer had never pitched so poorly since he joined the Phillies in August 2006.

It goes without saying, too, that if the Phils expect to return to the postseason, they need Moyer to return to form. He went 16-7 with a 3.71 ERA in 2008. His 30 wins the previous two seasons led the team. So while one decent start does not mean Moyer has solved his problems, it could be seen as a step in the right direction.

Moyer liked the fact that he threw strikes and forced contact against the Reds. He threw 15 first-pitch strikes to the 25 batters he faced. He walked just one.

Manager Charlie Manuel thought Moyer's command improved, although he mentioned that Moyer also found himself in some deep counts.

"You know what? I've got to pitch on the edge," Moyer said. "I live on the edge."

He does. Moyer has to work the corners with a fastball in the low 80s. He has no other choice.

His command hadn't been there in recent starts, which explains why he had been hit so hard. Moyer scattered nine hits against the Reds, but three of them were bloop singles. The hardest-hit ball came in the second, when Reds catcher Ryan Hanigan hit a solo home run to left field. Moyer kept the pitch down in the strike zone, but it caught too much of the plate.

Moyer said he didn't expect the ball to go out.

Neither did catcher Chris Coste.

"It wasn't like they went up there and started absolutely tattooing the ball," Coste said. "He pitched to contact. They certainly didn't barrel the ball a lot. There certainly were a lot of positive signs today."

But while the Phillies took some positives from Moyer -- he makes his next start Monday against the Marlins, whom he is 12-1 with a 2.84 ERA against in his career -- they couldn't do anything against Reds right-hander Aaron Harang.

Philadelphia has had success against him in the past. He was 1-1 with a 6.15 ERA in eight previous appearances against the Phils, but allowed just four hits and one run and struck out nine in seven innings.

"We didn't handle him," Manuel said. "He beat us. He made us look bad. We didn't handle nothing about him. He carved some of them up."

The Phillies scored their only run in the fourth, when Raul Ibanez hit a solo home run to center field to cut the Reds' lead to 3-1.

If any Phillies starter holds his opponent to three runs, most nights, the Phils are going to win the game.

Not Wednesday.

"He kept us in the ballgame," Shane Victorino said of Moyer. "We've been swinging the bats well and scoring a lot of runs. Unfortunately, we didn't do it. But it's a positive that Jamie kept us in the game. That's what we've been asking him to do, and he did it. It's a very positive step for him. I'm glad. He's a good we can count on. He's too smart. He's going to find his way out of it."

Todd Zolecki 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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