The Phillies' losing continued on Friday with an agonizing 8-7 loss to the Texas Rangers. Facing mediocre pitcher and infrequent starter Kason Gabbard the team looked poised to return to form. The Rangers are not renowned for challenging pitching this season. The Phillies bats did indeed come alive to a certain extent, but Brett Myers was unable to hold the Rangers off enough to get his teammates a win.
The game began ominously with a one-two-three inning for Gabbard and Ian Kinsler hitting a lead-off home run. After this Myers showed signs of being the skilled pitcher that he sometimes can be, but the Phillies had to hope their offense would not remain as quiet as that of their opponents. In the third inning, they seemed to get their break. Eric Bruntlett walked to lead off the inning, Jayson Werth reached first on an error, and Chase Utley, finally seeming to regain his poise at the plate, drew a walk of his own, loading the bases with no outs.
The revamped lineup brought Jimmy Rollins to bat in the fourth spot, and even though he could only manage to ground out, he did even the score by scoring Bruntlett and moving Werth and Utlley to second and third. Pat Burrell batted next, Charlie Manuel having finally seemed to come to the conclusion that he is having a better year that Ryan Howard and perhaps ought to hit earlier. There is a logic to this. However, in this case it meant that Burrell got the intentional walk so that Gabbard could pitch to Howard. Howard contributed to his own record-breaking season by striking out.
The intentional walk did come back to hurt though, as Burrell being on base did mean another run against them when Pedro Feliz hit a home run the next at-at bat. The grand slam put them ahead 5-1, and it was just the kind of boost the Phillies seemed to need top refresh their hitting.
However, Myers could not hold their lead. In the home half of the inning he seemed to fall apart. Three hits in a row scored the first run. A walk to Milton Bradley loaded the bases. He seemed to have lost any sense of control, and walked David Murphy, generously giving Texas a free run. This was the final straw for Myers, who was pulled in the third. Clay Condrey replaced him, inducing Marlon Byrd to ground out (scoring another run). Chris Davis hit a two-run home run before Condrey could finally escape the inning.
When the dust settled the Rangers had the one-run lead back, and even when Chris Coste re-tied it with a solo home run in the top of the fourth, the Phillies must have felt deflated. Josh Rupe came in to pitch for Texas in the fourth and pitched effectively; they meant this game to be a collaborative job. Bradley homered again in the fifth, and from then the Phillies could never again even the score (despite a Jayson Werth solo homer later on).
It was a game the Phillies could have won had it not been for the inconsistency of Brett Myers; their losing has continued, but this time instead of failing to hit behind a good pitching performance, poor pitching spoiled a day on which they hit. One can only hope they find a way to recapture the happy medium.