08/21/2002 01:13 am ET
Burrell reaches 30-homer plateau
By Amy Sternig / MLB.com
MILWAUKEE -- Pat Burrell may not have taken part in the Home Run Derby at Miller Park during All-Star Weekend in
July. But with the shot he unleashed Tuesday night, he could have.
Burrell got all of Jamey Wright's 3-2 pitch in the sixth inning, driving it 410 feet into the left-field bleachers.
It was Burrell's 30th homer of the season, making him just the 17th Phillies player ever
to hit at least 30 home runs in a single season.
Burrell said the accomplishment is little consolation after the team's 2-1 loss to Milwaukee.
"Fortunately I'm swinging the bat well this year and putting up some decent numbers," Burrell said. "But you'd trade that in for some wins."
The Phillies had their opportunities. Rookie phenom Brett Myers allowed just two earned runs on seven hits over five innings, but his offense didn't help him out.
Philadelphia loaded the bases with one out in the first, but could not capitalize. In that first inning, Burrell was hit by a pitch in the left arm near the elbow. He stayed in the game, turning in a 1-for-3 evening.
The homer was Wright's only mistake of the night.
Wright, a sinkerball pitcher, has been working on a cut fastball mainly to throw inside to left-handed hitters. If it works, the pitch acts the same as his sinker inside on righties.
"For some reason I tried to get a little cute and throw a cutter away to him," Wright said. "It was right down the middle and I knew right away that I wasn't going to get that ball back. So I went straight to the umpire, asked for a new ball and regrouped."
Burrell's homer also was his 90th RBI, making him the fastest Philadelphia player to 90 since Rico Brogna did it in 1998. Both Brogna and Burrell accomplished it in 122 games.
Both marks were career bests for the 25-year-old left fielder.
Manager Larry Bowa said Burrell has been his most consistent player in the lineup.
"That's why he's hitting fourth," Bowa said. "Burrell's done a great job."
Burrell's solo blast also kept the Phillies from being shut out by the Brewers. This was the third consecutive game in which a solo shot kept them from a shutout. They've been shut out only twice this year, by the Mets and Marlins, which is the fewest in the National League.
The Phils have now hit 14 home runs in their last 10 games, 19 in their last 14 and have
homered in seven straight games.
But the homer can't always win the game for you, as the 59-65 Phillies record shows.
Bowa said when a team doesn't score runs, it obviously makes things difficult.
"Can't be that inconsistent at this level," Bowa said. "We had a chance to break the game open early and we just didn't do it."
Burrell echoed Bowa's concerns about the lack of offense.
"We haven't been doing a good job of situational hitting," Burrell said. "That's been a big problem for us all year."
Burrell had a chance, albeit a small one, to tie the game in the seventh.
He worked an 11-pitch at-bat with a Jimmy Rollins on base. On the 10th pitch, Rollins moved into scoring position by stealing second. On the next pitch, Burrell popped up and tried to will the ball foul, even waving his hand toward foul territory. But it was caught by catcher Robert Machado to end the inning.
The Phillies selected Burrell first overall in the 1998 draft. This is his second full
season in the Majors; in 2000, he played in 111 games for the club.
Going into the 2002 season, August has been Burrell's best month by far. He now has 16
homers and 51 RBIs in August.
Burrell said he's been lucky that things have gone well for him since coming to the Majors.
"With me it's been kind of a progression," he said. "Since I've gotten here, each year I've improved in certain areas."
In 2001, he hit .258 with 27 homers and 89 RBIs. In 2002, he's hitting .281.
He's been on a tear as of late, hitting safely in 12 of the last 13 games. On the year, he's driven in or scored a run in 62 of 89 games, with 63 runs and 74 RBIs.
Amy Sternig is an editorial producer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.