PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Brett Myers never lost confidence, even when
he lost his way.
Inconsistent release points and a lack of command led to an
early season slump that threatened Myers' spot in the rotation. But
his erratic efforts ended after a few bullpen sessions with
pitching coach Joe Kerrigan.Myers pitched a five-hitter for his second career shutout and
the Philadelphia Phillies sent the Los Angeles Dodgers to their
seventh straight loss, 4-0 Thursday night."I knew something needed to change because I wasn't
executing," Myers said. "So I worked my tail off with Joe in the
bullpen and tried to find out what the deal was. We did, and we're
just going on from there."Chase Utley homered and Marlon Byrd had three hits for the NL
East-leading Phillies, who swept the three-game series and have won
10 of 13 overall. Picked by many to win the division, Philadelphia
has overcome a 1-6 start, going 17-8 since being swept by Florida
from April 20-22.Los Angeles could do little against Myers (3-2), who won his
third straight start. Myers had a 7.36 ERA after his first three
outings, prompting questions about whether he would lose his spot
in the rotation, or even be demoted.Myers, a 14-game winner last season, knew he belonged."If you lose your confidence, you're beaten as a man," Myers
said. "I was just more worried about powering through guys than
pitching to guys."The right-hander has bounced back, and he was in total control
against the Dodgers. He struck out five and walked two in his third
career complete game. Just seven Dodgers outs came in the air."That might have been the best outing this year by anybody,"
Phillies manager Larry Bowa said.Myers retired eight straight early in the game and pitched out
of his only jam in the sixth, stranding runners at the corners. It
was one of the most dominant performances by anyone at
Philadelphia's new ballpark, which has become quite a hitters'
park."He showed you today if you make good pitches, you'll have
goose eggs up there for nine innings," Bowa said.Myers' other shutout was June 22, 2003, against Boston.The Dodgers have faded since a 22-10 start. The losing streak is
their longest since June 27-July 4 last season."We got nothing from the middle of the order," manager Jim
Tracy said. "Things have got to change if we want to get out of
this rut. Some good offensive players are not swinging the bat up
to their potential. They just have to reach in deeper and try to
figure things out."Coming off his worst start of the season, Kazuhisa Ishii (5-3)
pitched 6 1/3 innings. He gave up four runs -- three earned -- and
seven hits. He struck out seven and walked five.Ishii allowed three runs in the first.Byrd led off with a triple and scored on Bobby Abreu's single.
Two walks loaded the bases, then Mike Lieberthal drove in a run on
a fielder's choice. Second baseman Alex Cora tried to make a play
on David Bell at third, but his throw sailed past Adrian Beltre for
an error that allowed another run to score.Utley, who probably will be demoted when Placido Polanco comes
off the disabled list Sunday, added a solo homer in the sixth.
Polanco has one RBI in 112 at-bats; Utley has 10 in 33.Utley also robbed Shawn Green of a hit in the ninth with a
diving play at second base.
Abreu is 7-for-7 on stolen base attempts. ... In the third
inning, Phillies SS Jimmy Rollins stole second base, but on the
next pitch was thrown out trying to steal third. ... Dodgers closer
Eric Gagne has gone 10 games since his last save. His longest
drought last year was 12 games. ... Phillies 1B Jim Thome missed
his second straight game because of sprained ligaments in his right
index finger. He hopes to return Friday night. ... After a combined
nine homers in the first game of the series and two more in the
second game, Utley hit the only one Thursday. ... Randy Wolf
pitched Philadelphia's only other complete-game shutout this
season. ... Some of the biggest ovations came on Flyers highlights.
The Flyers played across the street in Game 6 of their NHL playoff
series against Tampa Bay.