Freddy Garcia threw three pitches to Gabe Gross before the sixth inning in the Phillies' 3-2 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers yesterday.

He probably would like to have two of those three back.

That's because Gross, the Brewers rightfielder who was hitting just .167 before the game, sent two home runs out of Citizens Bank Park en route to another frustrating and disappointing outing for the 6-4 righthander.

"I don't know what happened. It's a funny game," said Garcia, who threw 5 2/3 innings, giving up seven hits and two home runs. "It's nothing you can do about it, because it's just a part of the game. I didn't make a good pitch and he took advantage of it."

Twice.

Gross' first home run came on the first pitch of the third inning; he hit another solo shot on an 0-1 pitch in the fifth.

Giving up two homers didn't seem to be the issue for Garcia. Instead, Garcia, who hasn't gone deeper than six innings all season, appeared upset at not pitching longer.

Asked what could be done to allow him to feel more comfortable late in the game, Garcia replied: "Let me pitch.

"It's all about confidence. You have to have confidence in me. I was feeling fine, and they took me out."

Garcia, who spent the first 2 weeks this season on the disabled list with a strained right biceps, threw 114 pitches - 70 for strikes. He struck out five and walked two.

Manager Charlie Manuel said he intends to use Garcia deeper in games, but it's a matter of comfort and timing.

"He's definitely getting stretched out now," Manuel said. "He usually has a bad inning where he throws quite a few pitches. When you get into jams, that's what happens. It's just a matter of time before we start taking him into the seventh and eighth inning."

Garcia's one bad inning came in the sixth, when he allowed a leadoff single to J.J. Hardy and walked Prince Fielder. Manuel visited the mound to see how Garcia felt after striking out Johnny Estrada, and Geoff Jenkins flew out to rightfield, with Gross on deck.

Garcia walked Gross on five pitches, and Geoff Geary made the walk from the bullpen to relieve Garcia.

"He was going to be done anyway after that inning," Manuel said.

Garcia, who was acquired in December from the Chicago White Sox in exchange for Gavin Floyd and Gio Gonzalez, believes that as an 8-year veteran, he has earned the right to work his way out of jams late in games.

"I've been around a long time," he said. "When I'm in trouble, let me do my thing. Have that confidence in me that I can get myself out of a situation."

Garcia, who led Chicago with 216 1/3 innings in 33 starts last season, said he's frustrated, not only trying to regain his dominance on the mound, but also to be a solid contributor to his teammates.

"Yeah, it's frustrating, especially when you have guys out there in the rotation who are throwing seven and eight innings," Garcia said. "I'm not getting it done, and it's making me mad." *