Brett Myers, self-proclaimed staff Chihuahua, believes his bite is back.

At least, the Phillies' No. 1 starter knows where it went.

"It's my arm angle. I found that out today," Myers said after pitching a bullpen session yesterday. "I've been fighting it since spring training."

Myers' fastball, his bread-and-butter pitch, has been getting chomped on his last two starts. The reason, he said, is because it's staying at a waist-high level: "The balls were kind of flat."

Hence, the 13 runs, three homers and seven walks Myers surrendered his last two starts against the Marlins, then the Astros. He lasted a total of 7 2/3 innings.

Only once has Myers been hammered worse in consecutive starts, in late June 2005, when the Mets and Red Sox pasted him for 13 runs in 7 1/3 innings.

As usual, Myers wasn't on top of his fastball then, either.

"If I get on the side of it, I'm more slinging the ball instead of driving through it," Myers explained.

After throwing on flat ground during the rainout Monday, then in yesterday's bullpen session in which he threw exclusively from the windup, he felt better.

"[Yesterday], I had a better plane. More downhill," Myers said. "If I miss down [in the strike zone], it's fine. It's better if I miss down over the plate than if I miss up over the plate."

Myers, who has been throwing between 88 mph and 91 mph, believes his fastball velocity will return to 93 or 94 mph now that he has identified the problem - if the fix takes. Today's bullpen session, thrown from the windup, will tell the tale somewhat, but he won't know for sure until he faces the Reds on Friday.

He's happy to have had the extra 2 days with which to work.

Besides, he's a bulldog again.

Myers quipped after his loss Friday, "I'm pitching like a scared dog. If you pitch like a Chihuahua, you're going to be eaten by a rottweiler."

Yesterday, he revealed:

"I went to Taco Bell and I ate the Chihuahua."


Mets catcher Paul Lo Duca left the game after the third inning after being hit in the back of his right hand by a foul ball off the bat of Chase Utley. X-rays on his right index finger were negative . . . Mets third baseman David Wright's second-inning single gave him a 24-game hitting streak dating to last season. That tied a franchise record held by Mike Piazza (1999) and Hubie Brooks (1984). *