Harang looks for answers as skid continues

Phillies starter allows 8 runs on 14 hits, takes 8th straight loss

Harang looks for answers as skid continues

PHILADELPHIA -- Aaron Harang throws a lot of strikes.

In the Phillies' 9-5 loss to the Brewers on Wednesday, Harang threw 91 pitches, 64 of which for strikes. Spending that much time in the zone ended up haunting Harang as he gave up eight runs and a season-high 14 hits in five-plus innings. It was the sixth straight start in which he allowed four or more runs after doing that just once in his first 11 outings. It was also the second straight start in which he set a season-high for hits allowed and the first time all season he did note record an out in the sixth inning or later.

Given that Harang has started against the Brewers 26 times in his career, they were no strangers to Harang's pitching style. When combining that with how much he was around the zone, Harang understood why he was hit so frequently.

"I've faced those guys so much over the years," Harang said. "Even their manager. I faced him quite a few times over the years. They know I'm going to be around the plate. Sometimes that can be a definite downfall. When you're around the plate, guys are going to swing more often."

And swing the Brewers did. Harang said he felt the Brewers were more aggressive, even swinging at pitches that were outside of the zone, than they were against the Phillies' starters in the first two games of the series. This led to 17 hits for Milwaukee, a season high.

With his loss Wednesday, Harang became the first Phillies pitcher to take eight consecutive losses since Jim Nash in 1972. The 1972 Phillies were one of just three Phillies teams that won fewer than 60 games since World War II, a group the 2015 Phillies are on pace to join.

This recent string of losses has been a 180-degree turn for Harang. He ended May with a 2.02 ERA, eighth best in the NL at the time, but since then it has more than doubled to 4.08.

"Normally it all boils down to command of your stuff," interim manager Pete Mackanin said. "You don't hit your spots, you get burnt, especially against an aggressive hitting club. And he left some pitches up, probably a few more than he'd like to. It was just a matter of he doesn't have the command right now that he had earlier. Once he gets that back, he's going to be the same guy that we saw."

Harang agreed.

"I don't feel like [my control] has been as sharp," he said. "I think early on there were times where I felt like I might've gotten away with a few pitches here or there. Guys are making adjustments or doing something. Maybe I'm throwing too good of pitches and catching too much plate instead. That's something I'll sit down with [pitching coach Bob McClure] over the next few days and just try to get ready for what's ahead."

Nick Suss is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.