Phillies Score Four in the Ninth to Beat Milwaukee, Howard and Utley Come up Big

Howard drove in three runs including a solo home run in the Phils come-from-behind win over Milwaukee.

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.

Bullpen Spoils Outstanding Effort By Hamels in Game One Loss to Rays

Hamels had a superb effort against Tampa, but his team came up short in the first game of Sunday’s day-night doubleheader.

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report

Going against one of Major League’s best pitchers in Tampa’s David Price, Phillies starter Cole Hamels dazzled the Tampa Rays by allowing no runs and three hits. He left the game with a 1-0 lead and seven strikeouts, which tied for sixth place on the Phillies all-time strikeout list with Jim Bunting.

Unfortunately for Hamels it all went for naught as the bullpen for the second straight game failed to hang on to a lead and the Phillies wound up on the short of a 3-2 loss in game one of Sunday’s day-night double header.

Price, matched up with Hamels well, allowed just one run on four hits—a solo homerun by Jimmy Rollins in the sixth. He had also seven strikeouts in seven innings. He got the win.

“It’s the best I’ve felt in a couple of starts, so it was good,” Price said. “Cole is an all-star pitcher and he has been for a while. He did what he did and it was a good game.”

Phillies reliever Antonio Bastardo came into the game in the eighth inning and pitched himself into serious trouble. He walked Elliot Johnson, got Brooks Conrad on a flyoutto left, but then walked Rays centerfield B.J. Upton. First baseman Car

los capped off the Rays uprising by blasting a three-run shot to right to give Tampa Bay a 3-1 lead they would never relinquish.

When Manuel finally pulled Bastardo out of the game, he was showered with boos and cat calls by the fans at Citizens Bank Park, who were understandly frustrated with the bullpen spoiling another good effort by a Phillies starting pitcher.

After the game, Manuel was asked if should have brought Bastardo, who got the loss, into the game after he had struggled to throw 29 pitches in Saturday afternoon’s game,

“That’s our eighth inning guy and he should be able to throw three days in a row,” Manuel said. “Twenty-nine pitches is not a lot of pitches. It would be a whole lot of pitches if you threw on a second or third day. You would not be able to use him on a fourth day. If we’re going to use him like that in eighth inning, he’s got to be able to pitch three days in a row.”

Meanwhile, Hamels, who threw 111 pitches, did his part to help the Phillies come away with the win and wasn’t upset about Manuel pulling him out of the game after the seventh inning. The pitch count was definitely a factor.

“I’d love to start and finish a game, but there’s something said because it can get very hairy trying to do it for a whole season and how long you last in your career.,”Hamels said. “You have to be a lot more careful and dig a closer to keeping that pitch count throughout the whole game. You can’t have those big innings where you’re throwing 25 pitches because that’s going to hurt you.”

In the Phillies half of the eighth inning, they cut the lead to 3-2 on an RBI-single by Ty Wigginton that scored Hunter Pence, who singled to open the inning. With runners at the corners, the Phillies had two chances to score the tying run but came short. John Mayberry Jr. struck out looking at at a ball he should swung at and Michael Martinez, who was 0-for-4, flied out to right to end the inning.

The big question in that situation was whether Manuel should have lifted Martinez for a pinch hitter like left-handed hitting Mike Fontenot or even Juan Pierre who hits lefties well with lefthander Jake McGee was on the mound. That question got under Manuel’s skin when it was raised during the postgame press conference.

“You guys ought sit in the dugout with me and give me all the scenarios because I don’t think we know them,” Manuel said sarcastically. “We don’t know how to manage a game. I think you guys ought sit down with us or tweet us or something and float the information down there to me because I ain’t smart enough to get it.”