By Chris Murray
For the CM Report
Even though the Phillies players will tell you that what happened last fall in the National League Championship Series has nothing to do with this week’s three-game series against the San Francisco Giants, but deep down inside they would have loved to have hit the ball in the LCS as well as they did Tuesday night.
In a matchup of National League division leaders, the Phillies came away with a 7-2 victory thanks to the long ball and another stellar effort from rookie sensation Vance Worley in front of another sellout crowd at Citizen’s Bank Park.
Scoring runs in bunches was one thing the Phillies couldn’t do last fall against the Giants during the postseason. But Tuesday night the Phillies launched four homeruns off Giants pitching, three of them came off starting pitcher Barry Zito (3-3) playing in place of Tim Lincecum, who was ill with a stomach virus.
The Phillies jumped on Zito early with the long ball, including an exciting inside-the-park homerun by Chase Utley in the bottom of the sixth. He hit a ball that split the gap in left center and bounced off the wall and past center fielder Jeff Keppinger, who tried to make a leaping catch.
“I saw the ball kick off the wall and I knew at the point, that there was, I guess, a possibility,” Utley said. “I was running pretty hard out of the box. I tried to turn an extra gear there. I don’t know if I have it, but I tried. It was a fun play. I was running like (third base coach Juan Samuel) he was going to send me and he did.”
But by the time Utley made his gallant jaunt around the bases, the Phillies already had a four-run lead thanks to a three-run homerun by Raul Ibanez, a Ryan Howard RBI double in the first inning and a two-out solo shot by John Mayberry Jr. in the bottom of the fifth inning. Howard closed out the Phillies home-run barrage with a two-out solo shot over Giants reliever Guillermo Mota in the bottom of the eighth.
The Phillies scored six of their seven runs with two outs in the inning which is something Charlie Manuel loves to see from his team. Ibanez said scoring runs with two outs is a good indication that the team is hitting the ball well.
“That’s definitely nice to be able to score with two outs,” Ibanez said. “At the same time, just being able to score a lot of runs is nice anytime. There’s a lot of good signs and a lot of good things happening here.”
Meanwhile, Worley (7-1), had another good effort for the Phillies with his first major league complete game. He allowed just two runs on three hits with one walk and five strikeouts. He threw 114 pitches. At one point late in the game, pitching coach Rich Dubee had advised Manuel to pull Worely for Antonio Bastardo, but Manuel wanted to keep Worley in the game.
“I think he’s earned the right, ” Manuel said. “Dubee said something to me tonight that ‘you might have to bring Bastardo in on Ross and I was still letting (Worley) go. I wanted him to finish the game for himself. With a lead like that, I think he earned the right to get a chance to finish it.”
Worley said he likes the idea of Manuel having enough confidence to allow him to pitch deep into the game.
“I would have been a little frustrated if I had gotten pulled, most pitchers are because they want to finish the game, especially when they’re that close,” Worley said. “I knew Bastardo was warming up, it meant a lot to finish it out.”
San Francisco opened the scoring in the first inning with a sacrifice fly by Pablo Sandoval that scored Andres Torres, who doubled off Worley and went to third on a ground out by center fielder Jeff Keppinger to give the Giants a 1-0 lead.
But Worley kept the Giants off the scoreboard until the top of the eighth inning when former Phillies outfielder Aaron Rowand hit a pinch-hit solo homerun to cut the lead to 6-2. The Giants would come no closer.
“He stay right at it and he was a gamer. He kept right on going,” Manuel said of Worley.
After Jimmy Rollins and Michael Martinez made the first two outs of the first inning, the Phillies wound up taking a 4-1 lead on an RBI double by Howard that scored Utely, who reached on a single. A Shane Victorino walk was followed by a three-run homer by Ibanez. It was his 14th of the season.
The Phillies increased the lead to to 5-1 in the fourth inning on a two-out solo homer by right fielder John Mayberry Jr. In the bottom of the sixth, the Phillies got the inside park homer from Utley.