Just as Brett Myers appeared to be overmatched in the majors, the youngster reaffirmed his place in Philadelphia’s rotation.
Myers looks to build upon the best start of his young career as the Phillies continue their three-game interleague series against the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards.
The 22-year-old right-hander broke out of a monthlong slump Sunday, tossing a three-hitter in a 5-0 win over the Boston Red Sox. In the first shutout of his career, Myers struck out five, walked three and retired the last 10 he faced.
“Brett was unbelievable,” Philadelphia manager Larry Bowa said. “You couldn’t have drawn it up any better than that game.”
Myers entered the game mired in a slide that started with a 5-2 loss to Montreal on May 25. Including that outing, Myers had surrendered at least four runs in four of his last five starts, carrying a 6.11 ERA during that stretch.
But he escaped the slump with just the second complete game of his career. Myers’ only other complete game was last season, when he allowed four hits in a 4-1 win over Milwaukee on Aug. 14.
He used a specific game plan to accomplish the feat again.
”(Boston) is an aggressive hitting team, and I tried to play into that,” Myers said. “I tried to locate my fastball and everything else worked off of that pitch.”
The Phillies won their third straight Friday with a 4-2, 17-inning victory in the opening game of the set, which lasted 5 hours, 41 minutes.
Jason Michaels, who entered in the 10th inning, hit a three-run homer in the 17th for Philadelphia, which has won eight of 10.
“Now we hope it rains (Saturday),” winning pitcher Dan Plesac said with a tired grin.
It was the Orioles’ longest game in innings since September 1974, when Baltimore needed 17 innings to beat Milwaukee 1-0. Seven players on the Orioles’ current 25-man roster were not even born at that time.
“You feel bad for losing, but you know the effort was there,” Baltimore manager Mike Hargrove said. “I don’t like to lose, but at least we went down fighting.”
The Orioles have lost two straight after winning three of four.
STANDINGS: Phillies - 3rd place, 7 1/2 GB, NL East. Orioles - 4th place, 12 1/2 GB, AL East.
PHILLIES PROBABLE STARTER: Myers (6-6, 3.38 ERA). Opponents are hitting just .214 and have an on-base percentage of .303 against Myers, who has struck out 67 and walked 39 over 96 innings this season. He makes his first career appearance against the Orioles.
ORIOLES PROBABLE STARTER: Pat Hentgen (1-4, 4.82 ERA). Hentgen has been shuffled between the bullpen and the starting rotation this season, but has taken over the role as No. 2 starter in place of struggling left-hander Omar Daal. The right-hander, who has lost four straight starts, made his last start June 9, allowing four runs and 10 hits over seven innings of a 4-0 loss to the Chicago Cubs. Hentgen hasn’t fared well against the Phillies in his career, going 0-4 with 5.79 ERA.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Phillies - Mike Lieberthal, .325 avg.; Jim Thome, 18 HRs and 53 RBIs; Bobby Abreu, 50 runs; Jimmy Rollins, 9 SBs. Orioles - Melvin Mora, .363 avg. and 48 runs; Tony Batista, 14 HRs; Jay Gibbons, 57 RBIs; Jerry Hairston Jr., 14 SBs.
INTERLEAGUE RECORDS: Phillies - 6-6; Orioles - 5-11.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Phillies - RHP Brandon Duckworth, making his first start since June 10, left Friday’s game one inning after being hit by a line drive off the bat of OF Jay Gibbons. The Phillies haven’t released any word on his condition. … C Lieberthal is batting .386 (34-for-88) in is career against Baltimore with 15 doubles, five homers and 22 RBIs. … 1B Thome had three hits Friday to push his hitting streak to six games, during which he is batting .357 (10-for-28). Orioles - RHP Hentgen, who was 0-4 last season, has just one win since the beginning of 2002, beating Tampa Bay 2-0 on May 17 of this year. … Since being activated from the DL on May 28, OF B.J. Surhoff is hitting .424 (25-for-59) over 19 games. … The Orioles have lost only one season series to the Phillies since the inception of interleague play, dropping four of six games in 2001.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Phillies - 19-18 on the road; Orioles - 17-20 at home.
INJURIES: Phillies - INF Tyler Houston (finger), 15-day DL; RHP David Coggin (shoulder), 15-day DL. Orioles - INF Hairston (leg), 15-day DL; OF Larry Bigbie (shoulder), 15-day DL; OF Albert Belle (hip), 60-day DL; OF Marty Cordova (elbow), 60-day DL; LHP Erik Bedard (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Scott Erickson (shoulder), 60-day DL.