By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report.
With Phillies manager Charlie Manuel wanting to do anything to jump-start an offense that can’t seem to get out of its own away, put Shane Victorino at the no. 2 spot in the Phillies batting order behind lead-off hitter Jimmy Rollins while moving third baseman Placido Polanco to the fifth spot behind clean-up hitter Ryan Howard..
In the bottom of the seventh inning, Polanco made Manuel look like a genius, at least for one night. With the bases loaded and the Phillies already up 3-0, Polanco took a Carlos Zambrano (5-3) pitch deep into the left field stands for a grand-slam home run to put the game seemingly out of reach.
Not only did the Phillies (38-26) come away with a 7-5 victory over the Chicago Cubs in front of a sellout crowd of 45, 602 fans at Citizen’s Bank Park, they also scored more than three runs in a game for just the second time since May 28.
“If we start hitting some balls hard and consistently like I know we can, we’ll get some home runs,” Manuel said. “I ain’t really worried about the home runs, I’d like to see us score runs. If we stay within our capabilities, we will hit some home runs.”
Whether this will signal a new beginning for the Phillies beleaguered offense remains to be seen, but to have an offensive explosion against a pretty good pitcher like Zambrano is something the Phillies will gladly take considering all the struggles they’ve had with scoring runs.Manuel said this lineup will remain as it is until further notice.
“Polly juiced the ball pretty good,” Manuel said. “He’s got a chance to stay there for a while. He’ll be there tomorrow.”
Polanco said he didn’t mind hitting behind Howard as the No. 5 hitter and that he would bat at any spot in the lineup to help the offense.
“I don’t really mind,” said Polanco,who was 1-for-3 with four runs batted in. “If the manager puts me there it’s because the manager thinks we have a better chance that day with me hitting fifth. The game’s going to talk to you depending upon the situation whether it’s getting on base or you might be hitting fifth, you might be leading off the inning and so you might want to work a walk or something.”
Meanwhile, on the mound, Philllies starting pitcher Roy Halladay put on another dominant performance for the Phillies. In seven innings, Halladay struck out nine, scattered six hits and did not allow a run in seven innings on the mound for the Phillies. He threw 106 pitches for the night.
But you can’t have an evening in this town without a few hiccups and something to complain about along the way. After Halladay’s departure, the Cubs picked up five runs on four hits in the inning off Jose Contreras and J.C. Romero. Michael Stutes put out the fire in the eighth and picked up the first two outs in the ninth inning before giving way to Antonio Bastardo who picked up the save for the Phillies.
“We ended up winning and it’s never easy to watch the other team score runs,” said Halladay, who spent some anxious moments in the dugout in that five-run Cubs eighth inning. “Stutes did a great job of shutting it down. It was a combination of him and Bastardo in the ninth with (Ryan) Madson having a day off, it’s a silver lining seeing those guys and the way they’ve been all year.
“They both got put on the spot tonight in situations where they’re going and closing out the ninth and doing stuff they’re not used to doing, they did a great job.”
The Phillies started the scoring in the first inning when Howard grounded out to a first on a fielder’s choice which drove in Victorino. The Phillies upped their margin to 3-0 on a two-run home run by rookie right fielder Domonic Brown.