Myers' amazing streak stopped by Reds
Righty falls just short of reaching six innings in all 33 starts
CINCINNATI -- The wear and tear of pitching a career-high 223 2/3 innings finally caught up with Astros pitcher Brett Myers in the moments following his final start of the season Thursday night.
As Myers took some time to ponder his season -- the best of his nine-year career -- he admitted he was mentally and physically spent. He hadn't had the extra adrenaline of a pennant race to help push him like he'd had in years past with the Phillies and he hit the finish line with a thud.
Myers came up one out shy in his attempt to pitch at least six innings in each of his 33 starts this season by getting rocked for a season-high eight runs and 10 hits, including three tape-measure home runs, in 5 2/3 innings to lose, 9-1, to the Reds at Great American Ball Park.
"I'm happy with [the season], but I would have liked for tonight to have been a little different," Myers said. "I was unable to accomplish that. It's one of those things. A long season catches up to you at the end a little bit. I was fully prepared to go seven, eight, nine innings. It just didn't work out."
The Astros finished the road portion of their schedule with a 34-47 record and will on Friday open a three-game series at home against the Cubs that will wrap up the season. They went 3-7 on their final road trip of the year.
Myers (14-8) saw his six-game winning streak come to an end with his first loss since Aug. 7 at Milwaukee. He finished with a career-best 3.14 ERA and tied his career high with 14 wins. He was one of just five pitchers since 1920 to pitch at least six innings in his first 32 appearances of a season.
"The whole coaching staff has given me a chance to succeed and given me a chance to win ballgames and obviously the streak or whatever was all on them," Myers said. "They let me go out there and accomplish what I needed to accomplish and help the team win. Overall I felt like it was a pretty good year. It probably caught up with me towards the end."
Even when Myers' control had betrayed him and he was getting knocked around in the sixth Thursday, Astros manager Brad Mills said he owed it to his ace to let him try to finish the inning. Myers was pulled after giving up a solo homer to Jonny Gomes with two outs after throwing 114 pitches.
"When a guy is struggling with command like he is, there becomes a time," Mills said. "Had the time gone too far at that point? Maybe so, but he's our No. 1 pitcher, too. I think he deserves a chance to get out of some of those innings as well."
Myers allowed a two-run homer to Drew Stubbs in the second and allowed two more homers in the sixth. Brandon Phillips hit a two-run homer, and Gomes belted a solo shot with two outs to make it 8-1 and end Myers' night and his remarkable streak.
"It seemed like he was trying and battling through his command and working and he just couldn't get the command of the pitches," Mills said. "He was trying to get through as he went on. There have been games like that where he's struggled at the first part, but he's been able to lock it in and pick it back up for the rest of the game. It just didn't happen."
The Reds also scored three runs in the fifth inning, including a two-run single by Stubbs, a former Draft pick by the Astros. The homers by Stubbs (418), Phillips (441) and Gomes (432) traveled a combined 1,291 feet on a night when the ball was carrying.
"He's a great pitcher and we just hit his mistakes," Phillips said. "That's what we're going to have to do when we get to the postseason because we're going to be facing a lot of good arms, so we have to go out and hit the pitcher's mistakes."
Cincinnati starter Bronson Arroyo (17-10) held the Astros to four hits and one run in seven innings, allowing a homer to second baseman Jeff Keppinger in the third inning. Arroyo, who is 7-0 with a 1.74 ERA in his last seven starts against Houston, retired the final 13 batters he faced following Keppinger's homer. Reds pitchers sent down the final 19 batters overall.
"Sometimes guys get to him early and really take him out of his game and sometimes he just flips that stuff up there and it's effective and hard to hit," Keppinger said. "The guy wins 15 games every year for doing that. He's pretty good, pretty effective."
Myers, who was signed to a contract extension in July and became the ace when the club traded Roy Oswalt, was clearly disappointed with how his season ended, but that did little to spoil his season-long workhorse effort.
"That stunk, but that's the way the game goes," he said. "You can only get through so many before something has to come to an end. It's part of the game and they've got a good team over there and I wish them luck in the playoffs. I sure would like to have won tonight."
Despite the loss, the Astros finished with a winning record in September (14-13), giving them three consecutive winning months. They have posted a .500 record or better in four consecutive months, becoming the first Astros team to do that since 2001.
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.