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09/22/07 1:35 AM ET
Phillies go to their bread and butter
Relief corps does its job in keeping pace with Mets in NL East
By Ken Mandel / MLB.com
WASHINGTON -- Brett Myers, Tom Gordon and J.C. Romero checked their extremities while warming up in the bullpen. With right and left arms in their respective sockets, the trio ignored exhaustion and worked a fourth straight game, and all three contributed to a 6-3 win on Friday night over the Nationals, which kept the pressure on the Mets. The Phillies remained 1 1/2 games behind the Mets, who beat the Marlins on Friday, in the National League East. "I threw seven pitches, what's the big deal?" said Myers, after recording his 19th save. "I felt better today than [on Thursday]. This is no time to be worrying about whether your arm is going to fall off. That's when I'll quit throwing. I'm not going to refuse the ball." Manager Charlie Manuel, despite concerns about reliever workload, has continued to give them the ball. As he did on Thursday, when Kyle Lohse worked two innings, or Tuesday, when Cole Hamels lasted three innings, Manuel strolled to the bump multiple times and raised his hand toward the bullpen. As a whole, the relief corps has allowed just three runs in 25 2/3 innings in the four games since nearly blowing an 11-2 lead in St. Louis. "They've been absolutely doing what we have to get done," Manuel said. "If they say they can go, and I believe them, I'll use them." The tireless threesome has fared as followed: Romero hasn't allowed a run in 14 appearances, spanning 10 1/3 innings; Gordon has gone eight appearances (7 2/3 innings) since surrendering four runs in the Sept. 5 loss to the Braves; and Myers has surrendered two runs in 9 2/3 innings (eight appearances). They and Geoff Geary rescued Adam Eaton after his five-plus workmanlike innings. Considering the righty's struggles this season -- Eaton had an NL-worst ERA of 6.36 entering the game -- limiting the Nationals to three runs on five hits and five walks had to be considered a success. It wasn't pretty, but he wriggled out of jams and earned his 10th win of the season. Eaton threw 46 of his 86 pitches for strikes. "This might be the least-satisfying win of my career," Eaton said. "I struggled mightily. I battled myself out there more than the Nationals. When you're doing that, it makes it doubly tough on you. That bullpen has been mighty good. Those guys have been amazing down there, and they deserve the bulk of the credit for this 10-game stretch." Eaton received offensive support with homers from Pat Burrell, Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins, who all took Shawn Hill deep. The Nationals' sinkerball specialist entered the game with a 1.29 ERA in two starts vs. the Phillies, and he hadn't allowed more than one home run in any of his previous 15 starts. Rollins also singled in the third for his 200th hit of the season, the first time in his career that he's reached that mark. Geary relieved Eaton after he allowed a leadoff walk in the sixth inning, and he retired five of the next six batters. Romero got the final out of the seventh, and Gordon and Myers took it from there. "Especially with the way the ballclub has played, you just want to leave it all out there," Gordon said. "All year, I battled an injury and my health, and even after that, I still had no idea whether I'd get back to this point and feel comfortable. My body feels great now, and I'm at the point where I just have to concentrate on making pitches and helping this team." The Phillies can rest in November. "This time of year, you have to go with as much as you can deal with," Aaron Rowand said. "We're trying to make a push for the playoffs, and we have eight games left. You have to lay it out there every day and make the playoffs, because if we don't, then we're going to have a long time to rest for Spring Training."
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.