While the big news of the day was the trade of Roy Oswalt to the Phillies, there was still a game to be played amidst all the hoopla. And tonight, the Phillies were looking for a 7-game home stand sweep.
Kyle Kendrick started against the D-Backs and did very well through 6 1/3 innings, allowing only one run. Kendrick did walk one batter in each of the first 3 innings, but settled in after that. With JA Happ gone in the trade today, the rotation spot belongs to Kendrick and he will need to keep up the solid pitching.
The Phillies offense, which has been on fire this entire home stand, finally sputtered a bit tonight. Carlos Ruiz hit an RBI double in the 5th to score Cody Ransom. The next inning, Raul Ibanez hit a solo homer to give the Phillies a 2-1 lead. But the offense ended there. They did have 9 hits off Joe Saunders, but could not score. Saunders had a very bad year with the Angels and was just traded to the D-Backs. He looked ripe for the picking, but the Phillies let him off the hook.
Chad Durbin finished pitching the 7th and Ryan Madson had a very good 8th inning. But manager Charlie Manuel left Madson in for the 9th. One can only assume this is because his confidence in Brad Lidge with a slim 1-run lead is just not there. And who could blame him. But Madson has not pitched more than an inning since coming off the DL and he quickly got into trouble, giving up a lead-off double to start the 9th.
JC Romero took over and allowed a single; a ground out then scored the runner from third, which was charged to Madson. With the game then tied, the drama continued. After an intentional walk and an unintentional walk, the bases were loaded for Romero. Gerardo Para stepped to the plate and grounded into his second double play of the night. Para was so upset, he slammed his helmet to the ground and was ejected by the first base umpire, Adrian Johnson.
The bad luck for Para seemed like good luck for the Phillies who entered the bottom of the 9th with a chance to win the game. But Jayson Werth, Ransom and Ruiz went down in order and the game headed into extra innings. In the 10th, Lidge was “Light’s Out” finally, sending the D-Backs down in order. So if they had put him in for the 9th, this game may have been over already. Go figure. But you just don’t know what you are going to get out of Lidge these days.
The Phillies loaded the bases in the bottom of the inning with 2 outs. Ryan Howard, who was 0 for 4 on the night to that point, had a chance to redeem himself. But in the past few games, Howard has started to look very, very confused at the plate. And that translated into a strike out in the 10th to end the inning. During this home stand, Howard is hitting only .185 including the 0 for 5 tonight.
But more bottom of the order heroics were on the way. Ransom, Ruiz and Wilson Valdez, the 6, 7 and 8-hole hitters accounted for 7 of the Phillies 12 hits tonight. So it was only fitting that in the 11th, the same three guys would finally win the game for their team. Ransom walked, Ruiz singled and Valdez knocked in the winning run with a liner to centerfield. The final score was 3-2 which completed a 7-game home stand sweep.
By the way, the Braves lost tonight so the Phillies picked up one more game in the standings. They are now 2.5 games out of first place in the NL East.
Tomorrow there will more high drama surrounding the Phillies as Roy Oswalt takes the mound in pinstripes for the first time. He will face the Nationals in DC; game time is 7:05pm. That game marks the first in a 6-game, 7 day road trip; 3 with the Nats and 3 with the Marlins in Miami after the off day on Monday.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography