Adam Eaton gave the Phils far more than any fan could have reasonably expected this afternoon. He pitched deep into the eighth inning. He gave the weary pen some much-needed rest. Most importantly, perhaps, he gave us all a little bit of hope with his first start of 2008 that the Adam Eaton of 2007 is gone forever. That in itself might be enough.

For today, at least, it’s going to have to be. The Phillies lost. Eaton was up 3-2 with two outs in the eighth when Corey Patterson muscled one out to the opposite field to tie the game. The Reds pushed across the game-winner in the bottom of the ninth.

The Phillies lost to the Cincinnati Reds this afternoon, falling 4-3 to drop to 2-3 on the season.

Eaton got the start for the Phillies and went 7 2/3 innings, allowing three runs on six hits and four walks. Just two of the hits went for extra-bases, a double and a home run. He struck out two.

Eaton’s first pitch of the season was to Corey Patterson and hit the dirt about three feet in front of the plate. Ball one. Patterson walked on four pitches and got a huge jump with Jeff Keppinger at the plate, stealing second easily. Keppinger hit one to short that Rollins took for the first out, Patterson moved to third on the play. Ken Griffey flew to left and Patterson scored from third to put the Reds up 1-0. Eaton started Brandon Phillips with a pretty breaking ball and went on to strike him out to end the inning with the no-hitter intact.

Adam Dunn busted it up by leading off the second with a line drive single into right. Eaton walked the next hitter, Edwin Encarnacion, before Scott Hatteberg singled into center. Victorino threw home but Dunn beat it and the Reds led 2-0. Paul Bako lined softly to third for the first out and it brought up the pitcher Harang with one out and men on first and second. Harang bunted too hard back to Eaton, who threw to third for the first out before Dobbs relayed to first to complete the double-play that ended the inning.

Eaton threw a 1-2-3 third, getting a nice play from Dobbs for the second out on a ball Keppinger hit down the line. Dobbs made a great play and then dribbled a throw to Howard, who did a nice job with the stretch to help get the out.

Phillips led off the fourth with a walk but Coste threw him out trying to steal second with Dunn at the plate for the first out. Nice throw by Coste. Dunn hit it hard, but right at Utley playing the shift for the second out. Encarnacion struck out swinging for the third out.

Bako singled to left with one out in the fifth. Harang tried to bunt him along but popped it up to Howard for the second out. Patterson was next and hit a ball slowly down the first base line. Eaton did a dive/slide thing for it and flipped to Howard to end the inning. Nifty play by Eaton. Second time in the game Harang’s inability to bunt the runner over hurt the Reds.

Eaton threw a 1-2-3 sixth. Griffey crushed a ball to center for the second, but Victorino tracked it down.

And a 1-2-3 seventh. Nobody crushed anything anywhere. Another pretty breaking ball started Encarnacion’s at-bat before Encarnacion flew to left to end for the second out of the inning.

Bako started the eighth with a single into center. Joey Votto was next and Eaton got him to hit into a double-play to short that cleared the bases with two down. Patterson was next and mauled a ball out the opposite way, typing the game at 3-3. Keppinger was next and hit a screamer down to third, off of Feliz’s glove and then high in the air. A double. Eaton walked Griffey intentionally and in came Flash to pitch to Phillips. Gordon struck Phillips out looking at a beautiful 0-2 curve ball to end the inning.

Chad Durbin started the ninth for the Phils with the score tied at 3-3 and walked the lefty Dunn to start the inning. Romero was the guy to pitch to Dunn, but no doubt he was unavailable after pitching on three straight days. Ryan Freel ran for Dunn at first and Encarnacion followed with another walk. Norris Hopper hit for Francisco Cordero and bunted the runners to second and third. Bako was next and the Phils elected to pitch to him and bring the infield in. Votto, who had hit into a double-play his last time up, was on deck. Bako hit a ball slowly between short and third. Rollins charged and fielded and started to throw home but couldn’t find the handle. After the misfire on the attempt to throw home, Rollins didn’t have a chance to get Freel and threw to first for reasons unknown. Bako was safe with a single and Freel scored to give the Reds a 4-3 win.

Tough luck for Eaton, who pitched great. Gordon got a big out in the eighth. Durbin has been really good so far this season, but the two walks to start the ninth really hurt the Phils. Durbin threw 20 pitches so he’s probably unavailable again tomorrow, but the long outing by Eaton got the pen some much-needed rest.

The Phillies’ lineup against righty Aaron Harang went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Jenkins (7) Dobbs (8) Coste. Dobbs gets his first start of the year at third against the tough righty. Coste catches Eaton.

Rollins led off the first with a single. Victorino followed and flew to center for the first out. Rollins stole second with Utley at the plate, but Utley drew a walk to put men on first and second for Howard. Howard hit it hard to left, but it was taken at the wall for the second out. Rollins moved to third, putting men on first and third with two down for Burrell. Burrell got down 0-2 and hit a soft fly ball into left for the third out.

Jenkins started the second with a single. Dobbs worked the count full and Jenkins took off for second. Dobbs swung through the 3-2 pitch and Jenkins was thrown out to empty the bases for Coste with two down. Coste flew out to left for the third out.

With two outs in the third, Victorino lined a ball into left-center for a triple. Utley followed and hit one to nearly the same place for a double. Victorino scored to cut the Reds’ lead to 2-1. Howard flew out to end the frame.

The Phils went 1-2-3 in the fourth and again in the fifth. Harang had retired seven in a row.

With one out in the sixth, Utley blooped a single to left and Howard followed with a walk. Burrell was next and he smashed a double into left. Utley scored to tie the game at 2-2 and Howard went to third. With Dobbs on deck having already struck out twice, Harang walked Jenkins to load the bases. Dobbs struck out on three pitches and Coste popped to Phillips in shallow center to end the inning. Phils can’t get any more after putting men on second and third with one out. Big hit for Burrell against the tough righty, but the strikeout for Dobbs when the Phils could have gone ahead in the game even with a good out hurt.

Eaton led off the seventh with the score tied at 2-2 having thrown 68 pitches. Tough call, but I think I would have gone that way too given how much work the pen has gotten early and the fact that Eaton is a pretty decent hitter. Eaton struck out and Rollins and Victorino went down behind him.

Lefty Kent Merker started the eighth with Utley and Howard due to hit for the Phils. Almost worked. Utley fouled out to first but Howard crushed one out to center for his first home run of the year, putting the Phils up 3-2. With the lefty Jenkins hitting behind Burrell, Merker stayed in to pitch to Burrell. Burrell ripped a couple of foul balls but settled for a one out walk. Taguchi ran for him at first. Jenkins smashed it to first base, but Votto started a double-play that ended the frame.

The Phils went 1-2-3 in the ninth. Werth hit for Gordon and flew to right for the third out.

The failure to get more in the sixth with the bases loaded and one out looms large in retrospect in the one-run game.

Rollins was 1-for-4.

Victorino 1-for-4 with a triple.

Utley 2-for-3 with a double and a walk.

Howard 1-for-3 with a walk and his first home run of the year.

Burrell was 1-for-3 with a double and a walk.

Jenkins 1-for-3 with a walk.

Dobbs made a nice defensive play in the third but had a miserable day at the plate, going 0-for-3.

Coste was 0-for-4.

Brett Myers faces righty Edinson Volquez tomorrow in game three of the four game set. The 24-year-old Volquez has never faced the Phillies and will be making his first start of the year. Over the last three seasons he has appeared in 20 games for the Rangers, 17 of which were starts. In 80 innings he’s gone 3-11 with a 7.20 ERA, allowing 111 hits and 42 walks. He was much better than that last year, going 2-1 with a 4.50 ERA and a 1.44 ratio for Texas in six starts.

The Phillies activated Brad Lidge from the DL and designated Tim Lahey for assignment.