BOSTON - Jamie Moyer had made 620 starts in 24 seasons before Friday night. Constantly, the 47-year-old lefthander has defied the logic of a game rooted in that very principle. So often has the pitcher continued when the game suggested otherwise.
But not until Friday night at Fenway Park had Jamie Moyer ever pitched this poorly.
Boston crushed the Phillies, 12-2. Moyer retired only three batters and allowed nine runs, statistically the worst start of his lengthy career.
"It was quite obvious I didn't execute," Moyer said. "And when I did, they hit the ball hard. It was pretty simple."
The Phillies dropped to third place in the National League East, the latest they have been in third since Aug. 15, 2007. They have lost 15 of 22 games.
"We have to start playing better, of course," an exacerbated manager Charlie Manuel said. "We can't put our game together."
On Friday, Moyer left the Phillies helpless.
In the 13 Red Sox batters he faced, Moyer allowed six doubles and a home run. Boston played pinball off the Green Monster in leftfield. With each shot off the wall, it became painfully obvious Moyer had nothing on this night.
"They were hitting, man," Manuel said. "Everything they hit, it seemed like it was on the Monster tonight."
Finally, after David Ortiz doubled to score the eighth Boston run, Manuel had seen enough. He took the ball from Moyer, who briskly returned to the dugout and put his coat on. He stuck around to watch the rest of the inning and then headed for the showers.
For Moyer, it was his shortest start since July 4, 1998. It was the sixth time in his career he allowed nine runs or more. The disastrous start raised his ERA from 3.98 to 5.03.
He was only the fifth Phillies starter ever to retire three batters or fewer and allow nine or more runs, according to Baseball Reference. The last was Ryan Madson on April 20, 2006.
It was so bad that in the middle of the fourth inning, Manuel waived the white flag. He told Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Shane Victorino their nights were done. In came Greg Dobbs, Wilson Valdez and Ben Francisco. Howard had played every inning of every game to that point.
"I might as well get my bench in and let them play some," Manuel said.
It's rare Manuel will give up on a game that early, but with the way the Phillies have played of late, there was little the manager could do but throw up his hands.
These Phillies have reached another low point in 2010.
With no outs in the third inning, the Red Sox had 13 hits. David Herndon, Antonio Bastardo and Kyle Kendrick (who only could pitch in relief because the Phillies are giving him an extra day in between starts) mopped up Moyer's mess.
The Red Sox fans, so bored with the game, loudly chanted "Beat LA!" in the seventh inning, an ode to the Celtics taking on the Lakers in the NBA Finals.
In 27 career games at Fenway Park, Moyer has a 6.10 ERA. He hasn't won here since 1999.
But Moyer entered the game with a 2.76 ERA in his last six starts. The lefthander was coming off a complete-game gem against San Diego and had been one of the team's more reliable pitchers in 2010.
"I'm going to give up hits, that's a given," Moyer said. "But when you space them out, you have a chance. When they clump them together, that makes it tough."