Phillies crash and burn in loss to Brewers

Posted: August 18, 2012

MILWAUKEE - With his right knee wrapped in ice, Domonic Brown did not immediately retreat to his locker in the visitors clubhouse at Miller Park after a 6-2 Phillies loss to the Brewers. He found a seat next to Vance Worley, and the two 24-year-olds talked.

They have been teammates since 2008 at single-A Lakewood. There is a certain bond, Brown said, between them. Still, words were needed Friday.

"That play has to be made," Brown said. "It's as simple as that."

He told Worley that, and it hardly atoned for the fly ball that fell as a two-run triple instead of being caught for a third out. The ballpark erupted as Brown lay facedown on the dirt warning track in right field. He had suffered ignominy for the first time since again being anointed a starter in the majors.

"He's going to make some mistakes," manager Charlie Manuel said. "That's all part of him getting his game together. We knew that."

More than once, Manuel has admitted his sub-.500 team will experience "growing pains." They are personified by a young middle reliever failing to record crucial outs; a starting pitcher with so much success as a rookie discovering the second trip is tougher; an erstwhile former top outfield prospect learning his way while on the job.

Brown's mistake manifested a seemingly endless fourth inning in which Milwaukee scored four times. Worley staggered on the mound, needing 44 pitches to barely survive the frame. Ten Brewers came to bat despite only three hits.

It turned on Nyjer Morgan's fly ball to deep right-center. Brown awkwardly tracked it only for the ball to nick his glove. He crashed into the blue wall and crumbled to the dirt empty-handed. He remained on the ground as the play unfolded and gingerly walked away from the scene of the gaffe.

"I just dropped it," Brown said.

Brown's defense has long been viewed as a barrier to his being an everyday player in the majors. The tide changed in 2012, when Brown began playing all three outfield positions at triple A. He was not without faults, but there was improvement. The trades of Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence have all but guaranteed Brown a spot in the 2013 starting outfield.

Ultimately, as Manuel said, the Phillies may be forced to take the bad with the good. Brown has shown flashes offensively but not with consistency. In 17 games, he is hitting .254 with only three extra-base hits.

"You have to have patience with him," Manuel said. "He has to play long enough to get comfortable. He has to play until he feels like he's convinced himself he can take off. He is feeling his way right now. I think he's going to hit. I've said that all along."

Worley threw 23 more pitches after Morgan's triple before the side was retired. He surrendered a two-run single to Yovani Gallardo, the opposing pitcher. He hit a batter, walked three in the inning, and could not recover from his defense's failing him.

Worley has now failed to complete six innings in four of his last five starts. He has a 5.35 ERA in seven starts since the all-star break.

"I know I'm better than what I'm doing," Worley said.

Few predicted similar results from a season ago, when Worley crashed the National League with a 3.01 ERA in 21 starts. After the same number of starts in 2012, that figure is more than a run higher.

Like Brown, Worley will be needed by the aging Phillies. Both endured nights to forget Friday as this season crawls to its unceremonious conclusion. They commiserated together.


Contact Matt Gelb at mgelb@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @magelb.

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