Wild pitches end wild Phillies loss
Myers suffers two miscues in decisive ninth inning
CHICAGO -- Brett Myers stinks.At least that's the conclusion he arrived at after Wednesday's performance in a 5-4 loss to the Cubs. "Put that in there," he said. "I stink." The Phillies' outspoken, high-energy closer danced into ninth-inning danger in a stressful Wrigley Field contest in which each team left the bases loaded in their previous at-bat. The final frame didn't unfold well, and featured two wild pitches from Myers; the second one cost the game. The deadly frame began smoothly enough, with Myers getting ahead of Matt Murton 0-2, but the Cubs left fielder looped a ball into left field, where Jayson Werth had just entered the game as a defensive replacement. With no time to scrape off the rust, Werth made an impression in his first outfield action since June 24. A better fielder than Pat Burrell, Werth caught the ball in full dive, but couldn't hang on to it after hitting the ground. Murton ended up with a double. "I don't think I ever really had it," Werth said. "I had it in my glove, then it was a snow cone. As soon as it hit the ground, it popped out. Initially, I thought I had it. I looked in my glove to take the ball out and it wasn't there. "It will find you. I just come off the DL, go in there as a defensive replacement, and the first guy hits a tweener into the lights. That's the game. You gotta love it." Ironically, if Burrell is playing left field, the ball drops for a single, keeping Murton at first base. Instead, Ronny Cedeno squared to bunt and Myers threw two high pitches trying to thwart that effort and induce a pop out. His 3-0 pitch was too high and too inside, and it eluded catcher Carlos Ruiz for a wild pitch, sending Murton to third. "I didn't take my out with Cedeno there and it ended up biting me in the rear end," Myers said. "I have to make sure that doesn't happen again." With the winning run 90 feet away, the Phillies intentionally walked Jacque Jones to set up a force at the plate. Myers fanned Jason Kendall and needed a double play from pinch-hitter Cliff Floyd to end the inning. Myers bounced a 1-1 pitch, and it got away again. Game over. "That last pitch was a split," Myers said. "I thought that was the best pitch to try and get Cliff out right there, but he didn't swing and it got past Carlos [Ruiz]. Nine times out of 10, Carlos blocks that ball. It was a freaky game from the beginning." Mostly, at the end. The Phillies scored a run in the first, but missed a bigger chance because they had loaded the bases against Rich Hill. Jamie Moyer gave the lead back in the bottom of the first and staked Chicago to a 4-1 lead after three innings. Aaron Rowand made White Sox fans happy for the second time in three games, by returning to the city and inflicting damage on the cross-town rival. The former member of the 2005 World Series championship team bruised the Cubs with a game-tying homer in the fifth. Two days earlier, Rowand reached Ted Lilly for a three-run homer. Rowand's homer on Wednesday capped a three-run inning, but highlighted an aggressive mistake by Ryan Howard. After doubling in Rollins for the second run of the inning, Howard tried to advance to third when an errant throw from Jones skidded away. Derrek Lee retrieved the ball and threw to third. "I saw the ball get away and tried to make an aggressive play," Howard said. "He made a good throw. If I had to do it again, I would have done the same thing." "When you see the ball get away like that, you have to make sure you can make it [to third]," manager Charlie Manuel said. "When you're hustling, it's a judgment call." Howard wasn't the only one. The Phillies left 12 men on base and the unavailability of Tom Gordon (tightness in his right shoulder) and Geoff Geary (high pitch count the night before) hamstrung Manuel. Situational reliever J.C. Romero tossed the eighth inning, and treated teammates and coaches to a thrilling roller-coaster ride when he issued three two-out walks during a stretch in which he threw 12 of 15 pitches for balls. He escaped by getting former Penn quarterback Mark DeRosa to pop to second. The Phillies returned the favor by leaving the bases in the top of the ninth, putting the game in Myers' hands. In replaying Werth's near great catch, Myers paused. "The sad thing is that he could have made a great catch there and it ends up being a double," Myers said. "It's still my job to get the next guy out. I screwed it up."
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.