Freddy Garcia's claim that manager Charlie Manuel didn't have confidence in him to finish the sixth inning in Thursday's 3-2 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers might have just been a slight miscommunication, the Phillies skipper said.

"I talked to Freddy, and I think it's just a matter of time before he sees that I have a lot of confidence in him," Manuel said. "I've seen him a lot and I respect him, because I know what he can do. He's headed right where we want him to go right now."

Garcia, who pitched 5 2/3 innings, allowing five hits and two earned runs, voiced his frustration after the loss. Despite a season-high 114 pitches, Garcia thought he could have made it through the inning.

Manuel brought in a fresh arm from the bullpen, Geoff Geary, after Garcia walked Gabe Gross.

When Manuel first visited the mound in the sixth, he explained to Garcia he wanted to go inside on Gross to get to the next batter, Tony Graffanino.

Manuel said Garcia was under the impression that if he didn't retire Gross, he would be taken out, but Manuel said the sixth would have been Garcia's final inning, anyway.

"For a guy to want to pitch like that is tremendous," Manuel said. "He's definitely earned the right, as a veteran pitcher, to be upset right now. But with that said . . . in no way have I lost confidence in him.

"Believe me, I will give him all the chances in the world. The better his performance gets, the more you'll see how much confidence I have in him."

Garcia is scheduled to pitch Wednesday against Florida.

Been there, done that

Atlanta third baseman Chipper Jones voiced his displeasure this week with the current interleague setup that requires the Braves (25-16) to play the Boston Red Sox (28-12) and the New York Mets (27-14) to play the New York Yankees (18-22) six times each, while the Phillies play a less demanding schedule that includes the Blue Jays (18-23) and the Kansas City Royals (16-27).

While Charlie Manuel understands where Jones is coming from, he isn't exactly feeling sorry for him, or the Braves. After all, no one seemed to feel any compassion for the Phillies last year when they played the Red Sox, Yankees, Tampa Bay, Baltimore and Toronto, finishing interleague play with a record of 5-13.

"When it first started I liked it, because it brought a lot of interest to the game with different teams who ordinarily wouldn't play each other," Manuel said.

"But after a couple years of watching it, I think I would like to see a real World Series, meaning interleague play wouldn't play a part on who goes to the World Series."

Besides playing three games each against the Blue Jays and the Royals this season, the Phillies will play three games against the Cleveland Indians, Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers.

Manuel thinks there are grounds to argue that the Phillies' tough interleague schedule could have factored into their falling three games short of the postseason in 2006: "I'm not crying because we were 5-13 or anything last year.

"I'm just saying that if those teams would have played the same schedule we had, would it have been the same result at the end of the season, is what I'm asking." *