By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun
PHILADELPHIA—If you have learned anything about Kyle Kendrick this season is that he is becoming adept at pitching his way out of some difficult situations. Wednesday night’s game against the Boston Red Sox was a classic example.
With his team hanging onto a 3-1 lead, Kendrick started the sixth inning by giving up a home run to Boston right fielder Daniel Nava. Dustin Pedroia reached on error by first baseman Ryan Howard. Then Kendrick walked Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli.
But Kendrick got catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia to fly out to center and then retired the side by inducing Mike Carp by hitting into an inning-ending 1-6-3 double play.
“(Kendrick) has grown up in the last year and a half or so,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said afterward. “He pitches with more poise and he stays focused better. He pitched out of a terrible jam in the sixth inning. He did a good job.”
Kendrick’s escape from that situation along with two home runs from a hot Domonic Brown gave the Phillies a 4-3 win over the Boston Red Sox in interleague play Wednesday night at Citizen’s Bank Park.
The Phillies (26-27) will once again have a shot to move back to the .500 mark if they can come away with a win over the Red Sox on Thursday night.
“It’s one of those things where we’ve been fighting, grinding,” said Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard, who hit a solo home run in the second inning to tie the game at 1-1. “It’s a good position to be in, so if we can get there and get over it, then that’s great.”
Along with Kendrick’s Houdini act, Brown kept his torrid pace at the plate going with a two-home run performance. The second home run Brown hit in the eighth turned out to be game-winner. He became the first Phillies player since Howard last season to hit home runs in three straight games. The National League’s Player of the Week has homered in four out of his last five games.
“I’m just getting some pitches to hit,” said Brown, who has hit 10 home runs during the month of May. “The first at-bat, I swung at some bad pitches. I told myself to try not to do it the rest of the night. I got some good pitches to hit and I was just happy to hit them hard.”
Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard said he knew back in spring training that Brown was going to have a big season.
“I’m not surprised by it at all,” Howard said. “I know some people are. It’s just his mindset. He’s been playing free. He’s just going out there and swinging it.”
For the game, Kendrick (5-3) allowed just two runs on four hits with three walks and three strikeouts in six innings on the mound. He threw 100 pitches. More importantly, Kendrick rose to the occasion in a tough spot in that crucial sixth inning.
“I’m just confident in what I have and I feel like I can make quality pitch after quality pitch,” Kendrick said. “When you make a good pitch, you’ll get the call. I feel I can come back and get a ground ball and make a quality pitch to get out of it.”
The Phillies bullpen did their part as Antonio Bastardo and Mike Adams got the Phillies through the seventh and eighth without giving up a run. Closer Jonathan Papelbon, who got his 11th save of the season, gave up a run-scoring double to Red Sox centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury to bring Boston within 4-3.