By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Sunday Sun
Monday night’s come-from-behind win over the Milwaukee Brewers was the kind of win the Phillies would get when they were in the midst of winning five straight National League East titles.
The Phillies would fall behind by three or four runs and then they would eventually wear down the other team’s relievers with guys Ryan Howard and Chase Utley getting big hits to put the Phillies over the top.
In a season where being down by any kind of deficit has been more like a death sentence, the Phillies rallied to score four runs in the ninth to come away with a 7-6 win over the Brewers where only half of the sellout crowd of 43, 717 bothered to hang around Citizen’s Bank Park.
Coming into that bottom of the ninth, the Phillies were trailing 6-3 and had an 0-42 record in games where they trailed beyond the eighth inning. After watching starting pitcher Roy Halladay give up six earned runs on eights in six innings and the offense struggled at times, the fans began heading for the exits after the bottom of the seventh inning.
But in the ninth, the Phillies got a two-run bases loaded single from Howard, a-run scoring single by catcher Carlos Ruiz and a game-winning sacrifice fly Ty Wigginton that scored backup catcher Erik Kratz. The Phillies pulled off this rally with one of the game’s best closers, Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez on the mound for the Brewers.
“It’s good to see that we can rally and come back,” said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “I think that’s a good sign. I think in these last couple of days we’ve show that we can still come from behind and win a game and also win extra-inning games. Tonight’s game was really big because we didn’t have much going until we finally broke through.”
If anything, the Phillies comeback victory over Milwaukee was a sorely need boost for a squad that is in last place 14 games out of first place, 12 games below .500 and about 10 games behind for the second wild-card spot in the National League. They still have a long, long, long way to go.
“It’s huge, we have to build on that momentum,” said Howard, who was 3-for-5 with a home run and three runs batted in. “We have to take the energy that we had in the 12th inning (of Sunday’s win over San Francisco) the other day and the ninth inning today.”
Comeback wins the likes of Sunday’s extra-inning win over the Giants and Monday night’s ninth-inning walk-off win is definitely a by-product of having Utley, who homered in the first inning , and Howard back in the lineup. When they were out of the lineup for much of the first half of the season, the Phillies lacked the firepower to bounce back from a huge deficit.
“Howard had three RBIs tonight and he got that big hit th at the end,” Manuel said. “Utley worked the count real well, he had three walks and a homerun. That’s real big. That’s a big part of our offense there.”
But all the excitement and enthusiasm is tempered by the tremendous mountain this team has to climb to get anyway near the one of the wildcard spots. With the trade deadline looming, the Phillies are trying to show some signs of life to let management that they don’t need to start selling off their spare parts.
“We can’t worry about all the other stuff that’s going on, you can’t worry about all the trade talk , you can’t worry about what’s going on upstairs,” Howard said. “You can’t worry about it. Only thing you can do is go out there and play and that’s what need to focus on and that’s what we need to do.”
Notes-Shane Victorino left the game after the first inning with a right elbow contusion. No word from the Phillies about his condition.