This time there would be no incredible comeback. This time the Phillies missed by just an inch or two.

Phillies leftfielder Pat Burrell hit a ball off the top of the left-field fence in the bottom of the ninth inning of a 3-2 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers yesterday. Burrell, who represented the tying run, had to settle for a double instead of a home run.

He would not score.

"From the moment I hit it, I didn't think it was going to go," Burrell said. "I didn't hit it that good, but I thought it might have a chance. A couple years ago, before they moved the fence back, I think I would have had it."

The loss snapped the Phillies' three-game winning streak. They could have swept their first four-game series since Sept. 4-7, 2003, when they ran the table on the New York Mets at Veterans Stadium.

The Phils also dipped back below .500 again at 20-21.

But there was some solace for the Phillies: The Brewers had entered the series with the best record in the National League.

"It's great," Burrell said of taking three of four from the Brewers. "It doesn't feel as good now, as I think we had an opportunity to win the game today. We've had great starting pitching, and it's tough to see that get spoiled."

The Brewers had much better starting pitching yesterday. Righthander Ben Sheets (4-2) proved dominant. In 72/3 innings, he allowed two runs, five hits and one walk. He struck out a season high of eight.

Sheets allowed a one-out home run to Burrell in the second inning to give the Phillies a 1-0 lead, but he did not allow another hit until Abraham Nuñez singled to left field with two outs in the fifth.

The 28-year-old righthander found himself in trouble in the eighth when Aaron Rowand hit a two-out double and scored on Shane Victorino's single to center to make it 3-2. But the Brewers brought in closer Francisco Cordero to lock down the victory.

Phillies righthander Freddy Garcia allowed two runs, seven hits and two walks in 52/3 innings. He threw 114 pitches as he continued to struggle to pitch deep into games.

Garcia was not happy that manager Charlie Manuel didn't give him the chance to work out of a jam in the sixth inning. After he allowed a leadoff single to J.J. Hardy and walked Prince Fielder, Garcia recorded two outs before he walked Gabe Gross to load the bases.

Gross had homered in two previous at-bats against Garcia.

Garcia and catcher Rod Barajas said they pitched carefully to Gross. Manuel removed Garcia at that point to have Geoff Geary face Tony Graffanino. Geary got Graffanino to bounce out to end the inning.

"It's my game and I wanted to face him to get out of the inning," Garcia said. "I'm really frustrated because I can't get past the sixth inning. It makes me mad because everybody else in the rotation is pitching really good and throwing a lot of innings."

Garcia said he needed to do a better job of getting the leadoff hitter of every inning out. But he also offered: "Let me pitch. That's all I need to do. When I get in trouble, let me do my thing and try to get out of the inning. Show confidence in my stuff. It's been hard for me to get out of the sixth inning, but I'm working really hard. . . .

"You can ask Charlie what's going on. I don't have no comments. Like you said, I've been around for a long time. I get in trouble, but I'm good at getting out of trouble, too. That's why I've won a lot of games. I always try to go out there and make it happen."

His next opportunity will come Wednesday in Florida.

Contact staff writer Todd Zolecki
at 215-854-4874 or tzolecki@phillynews.com.
Read his blog at http://go.philly.com/zozone.