Phillies like what they have seen from Eickhoff

Phillies like what they have seen from Eickhoff

ATLANTA -- In the end, after another tough loss for the Phillies, Jerad Eickhoff can take some solace -- small as it might be -- in the fact that he did all that he could do Saturday night against the Braves.

That may not be enough for Eickhoff, the Phillies' 25-year-old rookie right-hander. It certainly wasn't enough for the Phillies, who lost to Atlanta, 2-1, for the second straight night, Philadelphia's fifth straight loss.

At this point, though, it's all that either Eickhoff or his team has.

"Guys pat me on the back and tell me good job, but we didn't win the game," Eickhoff said after throwing seven shutout innings. "For me, we're trying to win. Everyone in this locker room is trying to win. That's the key point."

The wins, of course, have been hard to come by. But with performances like Eickhoff's on Saturday -- and Adam Morgan's Friday -- there seems to be, for those who look hard enough, some hope out there.

Interim manager Pete Mackanin looks at Eickhoff -- who has gone seven innings in his past two starts and three of his last four (without a win) -- and sees a bright future.

"He gets after it. That's what we're looking for," Mackanin said. "He did a great job. He probably could have gone back out. But here's a young guy that hasn't pitched this late in a season, and I didn't want him to [give up] a walk and a bloop, and it ruins a good performance. Get him out on a positive note."

Eickhoff (1-3, 3.16 ERA in six starts) was more than good enough to win Saturday's game. He gave up a leadoff single to Nick Markakis on the first pitch of his night, but breezed through the first inning otherwise unscathed, throwing just 11 pitches -- 10 strikes.

He gave up a couple singles in the second, but escaped any trouble there thanks to a solid throw from backup first baseman Darin Ruf, who cut down Atlanta shortstop Andrelton Simmons at the plate.

The one jam he found himself was in the third, when he gave up a one-out triple to Atlanta's Hector Olivera and had runners at first and third with just one out. Eickhoff enticed A.J. Pierzynski to line out softly to second base, then coaxed Cameron Maybin to foul out to right field to end the inning.

In all, Eickhoff went the seven strong, allowed just five hits (and only the one extra-base knock), struck out five and walked two. He had everything working. The fastball, the slider, the changeup and his curveball. His curve, which he's been working on between starts, has been especially impressive lately.

"I was throwing all four pitches for strikes. I think that's huge," he said. "Keep those hitters guessing, [so] they didn't know what I was throwing. I was fortunate to have it tonight."

John Donovan is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.