Charlie Manuel

thought

Adam Eaton

pitched the best he had ever pitched for the Phillies on Friday.

The righthander allowed three runs in seven innings in a 4-3 loss to the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park.

Eaton is 0-3 with a 5.37 ERA after 10 starts this season. In his 40 starts for the Phillies since he signed a three-year, $24.5 million contract Nov. 30, 2006, he is 10-13 with a 6.05 ERA. The Phillies hope to see a continuation of Friday's effort tonight against the Colorado Rockies at Citizens Bank Park.

It's worth noting that Kris Benson had an encouraging start in an extended-spring-training game yesterday in Clearwater, Fla.

Benson threw four-plus innings and allowed three hits, one unearned run, and one walk. He struck out four. His fastball hovered around 86 to 90 m.p.h., up from last week when he topped out at 87 m.p.h. in an extended-spring-training game.

If Benson comes out of his most recent start OK, he will pitch for single-A Clearwater on Sunday.

"It was encouraging for him and encouraging for us," said Ruben Amaro Jr., the Phillies' assistant general manager.

Amaro did not have a timetable for Benson's possible return to the majors, but the Phillies have said a reasonable expectation is between June 15 and July 15. The righthander has not pitched in the big leagues since 2006 because of injuries. He had right rotator cuff surgery in March 2007.

Benson can opt out of his contract if he is not promoted to the majors by Sunday, but that is unlikely because he is not ready to pitch. Because Benson signed a minor-league contract with the Phillies, he also is not on a 30-day clock to return to the majors.

Still, at some point, the Phillies will have to make a decision regarding Benson if he stays healthy and continues to progress: Can he help this team? And if so, whom does he replace in the rotation?

Burrell scratched

The Phillies scratched

Pat Burrell

from last night's lineup because of stiffness on the left side of his neck. He is listed as day-to-day.

Greg Dobbs

replaced Burrell in left and hit fifth.

The next GM

Phillies president

David Montgomery

reiterated what he said in spring training: He likely won't name a successor to general manager

Pat Gillick

before the end of the season. Gillick said he planned to step down after the year.

It is believed the Phillies will hire from within the organization, with Amaro and fellow assistant GM Mike Arbuckle as candidates.

The hitting Hawaiian

Shane Victorino

entered last night hitting .400 (14 for 35) with three doubles, one home run and five RBIs since May 18, raising his average from .244 to .273.

"He's definitely been more patient," Manuel said. "Those are things that Victorino definitely needs to work on. He's a two-hole hitter, and that's a tremendous place to hit in our lineup.

"But at the same time, he has to learn how to work situations and how to work the count. I think Jimmy Rollins has done that. Not only has he learned his hitting, but he has learned what balls to hit. Victorino is still in the process of learning that."

Sympathy for Willie

Manuel knows what the hot seat feels like. New York Mets manager

Willie Randolph

finds himself on one of the hottest seats, with his long-term job status in doubt.

"There are some things you can't control," Manuel said. "You try not to worry about them or think about them. You try to do your job. That's what he said he's thinking."

Contact staff writer Todd Zolecki at 215-854-4874 or tzolecki@phillynews.com.