NEW YORK - The Phillies hoped that Brett Myers had rediscovered his swagger and fastball in the minor leagues.

It's too early to tell whether the swagger is back for good.

He showed early that the fastball is not.

Myers, making his first start for the Phillies since June 27, threw his fastball often last night in a 6-3 loss to the New York Mets at Shea Stadium, but he rarely threw it for strikes. His lack of command proved costly as the Phils fell into a first-place tie with the Mets in the National League East.

"I think right now we need some more looks at him," manager Charlie Manuel said. "I think he definitely deserves a shot to get his command down."

Myers walked four consecutive batters on 20 pitches in the first inning as the Mets took a 2-0 lead. In five innings, he allowed three hits, three runs and five walks. He also hit a batter and struck out two.

"I felt like if that first inning didn't go that way, we would have won the game," Myers said. "I probably would have pitched nine innings, the way I felt tonight. Unfortunately, it didn't go that way."

No, it didn't.

Myers threw 29 pitches in the first inning, just nine for strikes. In the third inning, he walked David Wright, hit Carlos Delgado with a pitch, and allowed a single to Carlos Beltran to load the bases with one out. Wright eventually scored to make it 3-2.

Myers pitched more effectively in the fourth and fifth innings, but by then his pitch count had reached 95 and Manuel figured he would put the ball into Ryan Madson's hand. But Madson, who entered the night 2-0 with a 2.66 ERA, allowed a three-run homer to Jose Reyes in the sixth to make it 6-3.

It certainly hurt that Myers couldn't find the strike zone and that Madson left a first-pitch change-up high in the zone, but the Phillies continued to struggle offensively. They managed just six hits, although they hit some balls hard early.

But this was Myers' night, good or bad. The Phillies optioned him to the minors last month because they desperately needed somebody to complement Cole Hamels atop the rotation and thought some time in the minors could help make Myers that pitcher again.

He will need to show he can be that pitcher in his next few starts.

"I felt 10 times better" than June 27, Myers said. "I just wish I could have thrown my fastball for strikes. It caught up to me. I definitely feel like if I can do that in my next start, I'll be fine.

"I think that's going to happen with my work ethic. If I keep working, it's going to happen. I don't take anything bad from this start, except for the first inning. It could have been different."

The Phillies hope his next start is.