Phillies Get Solid Effort from Kyle Kendrick, Howard homers in Shutout of Braves

8 May

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report

After managing just two hits and zero runs in the previous night against the Atlanta Braves, the Phillies offense did not score runs in bunches, but then again just about anything is better than the lack of offense from the previous night.

More importantly, the Phillies (22-10) came away with a 3-0 win over the Atlanta Braves on a cool night at Citzens Bank Park.

On a night where the offenses of both teams didn’t necessarily overwhelm anyone, the Phillies managed to push across enough runs to put them over top thanks to a solo homerun to right center by first baseman Ryan Howard and an RBI triple by Shane Victorino that scored Jimmy Rollins. Second baseman Pete Orr drove in a run on a ground out.

Even though Charlie Manuel likes to see his team push across lots of runs with the big inning, he is just going to have to accept those nights when the team scores three runs or less and can come away with a win. That’s not a bad thing at all.

The Phillies went up against 20-year-old rookie Julio Teheran, who was rated as one of the top young pitching prospect in the Braves organization by Baseball America and was making his major league debut. In four and two-thirds innings, Teheran allowed three runs on four hits with a strikeout and a homerun. The Phillies were impressed with the youngster’s potential.

“I think he’s got good stuff, he’s got a good change up, he mixed it up pretty well,” Howard said. “He’s got a good curve ball. I think once he gets more experience and he’ll mix it up better. Just for him he needs more experience and he’ll be alright.”

With Roy Oswalt on the disabled list, Kyle Kendrick (2-2) didn’t have a Cliff Lee or Roy Halladay-like performance, but he was solid in five innings of work and came away with the win. He allowed no runs on just two hits with three strikeouts and a walk. In 15 of his last 30 starts he’s allowed two runs or less.

“He kept the ball down good tonight,” Manuel said. “I thought the fast ball was his biggest weapon. I thought that he moved the ball in and out. He didn’t throw too many balls high, especially to left-handed hitters. He did a good job with lefties tonight.”

The major area in which Kendrick has improved as a pitcher is that he has increased his arsenal of pitches. In addition to his fast ball and his sinker, he’s added a cut fastball and a changeup.

“It’s definitely a lot better than the last couple of years,” Kendrick said. “I think it’s just maturing and working on your pitches. My cutter has gotten a lot better and my changeup, too. It’s helped me out a bunch. Like we talked about back in 2008 when I got sent down (to the minors) to work on my offspeed pitches. I think it’s come a long way and it makes pitching a lot easier.”

Relievers J.C. Romero, Michael Stutes, Antonio Bastardo and Ryan Madson,who got the save, closed the door on the Braves and allowed just two hits from the sixth through the ninth inning.

“All of pitchers and that includes our whole bullpen have been pretty good,” Manuel said. “I’d say we are a pitching team.”

The Phillies scored their first run of the game in the second inning on an RBI ground out by Pete Orr that scored Ben Francisco.They increased their lead to 2-0 on a solo shot to right center by Howard to open the fourth inning.

With that homerun, Howard hit his 260th career and moved into sole possesion of second place past Del Ennis on the Phillies all-time career home run list. During the Phillies postgame show, Phils color commentary Gary “Sarge” Matthews read a letter from Ennis’s wife, Liz, congratulating Howard on his accomplishment.

In the fifth, the Phillies scored their final run of the game on a run-scoring triple by Victorino that brought home Rollins.

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