Posts Tagged ‘Ben Francisco’
Apologies for several days with no news. With Spring Training getting ready to wrap up its first week of workouts, here are some of the stories from the first few days, including some quotes from Phillies stars.
The Phillies didn’t have many moves left to make as the countdown to Spring Training turns from months to weeks to days. But Ruben Amaro Jr. did say he wanted one last bench piece for the 2012 Phillies. He specifically noted speed.
The Phillies now have that speedy threat that could win the game with his feet in late-game spots. Juan Pierre, the well-traveled outfielder, has signed a minor-league deal with the Phillies.
He was the forgettable piece that came with Cliff Lee in 2009, and just never clicked. Less than one season after trying to settle with Ben Francisco as their starting right fielder, he has been traded to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for left-handed reliever Frank Gailey.
Francisco may be best remembered for his three-run home run in Game 3 of the NLDS this past Postseason, but otherwise was pretty forgettable as a Phillie. He rarely saw playing time late in the 2011 season, and thus, this move is understandable. The Phillies have been looking for some relief help, even on a minor league level, and this helps fill it. Plus, with bench signings like Ty Wigginton, Laynce Nix and Jim Thome, the Phillies didn’t appear to have a place for Francisco.
Gailey, a 26 year-old lefty, posted a 3.41 ERA in 74 innings at Double-A and Single-A ball this past season. Gailey is a native of the Philadelphia area, so this is a homecoming of sorts for the reliever.
Overall, this is nothing earth-shattering. The Phillies needed to make space on the bench, and they added a local product in return. Francisco never really seemed to find the same kind of connection most players have on the Phillies. So, after two and a half seasons as a Phillie, Francisco is off to Toronto.
The Phillies’ start against Jaime Garcia went off as expected. Garcia left the Phillies’ bats silent, which made for a frustrating night. Cole Hamels was there to pick the Phillies up, and gave them a chance to still take this game. In the late innings, frustration turned to elation. And elation fell victim to the nerves. In the end, the crucial swing game in this best-of-five NLDS went the Phillies’ way.
This game was full of different storylines. Jaime Garcia was the first one, as he cruised through the first five innings with little trouble. The sixth featured the Phillies’ first scoring chance, as Chase Utley and Hunter Pence reached base with two outs to bring Ryan Howard to the plate. Howard would ground out the end the inning.
On the mound, Cole Hamels was just as good by the numbers, but having a completely different day. Garcia’s outs were coming easy. Hamels was working for every one of his outs. In the end, Hamels worked around a first-inning jam, and several baserunners to finish with six shutout innings, allowing five hits, three walks, and eight strikeouts.
The seventh inning proved to be the turning point. Shane Victorino led off with a single, and was on second after a passed ball. The next two batters did nothing to move Victorino over or bring him in. With the Phillies facing a pinch-hit decision, Garcia intentionally walked Carlos Ruiz. Ben Francisco came up as the Phillies’ two-out hope. The Phillies were hoping for a run. They got much more than that. Francisco hit a hanging breaking ball out to left, giving the Phillies the first lead of the day, a three-run shot.
The Cardinals would not go down without a fight. Vance Worley was on to pitch the seventh, and allowed a one-out walk to Allen Craig. Albert Pujols followed with a single, and David Freese would pick up a two-out RBI single to put the Cardinals on the board.
In the eighth, Worley started by allowing a single to Ryan Theriot. Antonio Bastardo got Nick Punto to fly out for the first out. Brad Lidge allowed a single to Matt Holliday, then another to Rafael Furcal to load the bases. That forced the Phillies to call on Ryan Madson for a five-out save. Craig was the first batter up. He rolled one to second that Chase Utley turned into a double play to end the inning.
With the eighth over, there was still the ninth for Madson. Pujols led off the ninth with a double. Lance Berkman flied out to center for the first out. Freese moved Pujols to third with a ground out. Yadier Molina brought the Cards closer with an RBI single. That brought Theriot to the plate. Theriot had been a perfect 4-for-4 on the day. Madson worked ahead of him in the count, and got him to chop a grounder to second to end the game, giving the Phillies the crucial Game 3 win, 3-2, over the Cardinals.
I usually don’t touch on my predictions very often unless I’ve guessed the winner wrong in a series by plenty. This morning, I posted a preview of this crucial Game 3, and predicted where my mind told me to go. My heart was praying for a little reverse psychology. I got an awful lot of reverse psychology. My prediction was a 3-2 Cardinals’ win, because it seemed that the Cardinals had two things going for them: momentum and a really good pitcher. Both worked for quite some time. In the end, the Phillies were the team on top, by the score of 3-2, and grabbed the all-important swing game in this series. At the very least, there will be a Game 5, but the Phillies are the team with a chance to clinch tomorrow.
Cole Hamels had to buckle down tonight on the mound. With the offense not getting things done, he needed to keep the game close. He did just that. I noticed around the fourth or fifth inning that this game was eerily similar to the Phillies’ Game 3 loss in the NLCS last year. Hamels started that one as well, and allowed three runs. But the Phillies only got three hits, and couldn’t score off Matt Cain. Hamels had no margin for error, and he pitched like he knew it.
The offense woke up just in time to strike on a late-inning opportunity. Ben Francisco reached Matt Stairs status with his clutch three-run shot. It was just enough in this one.
The bullpen kept things interesting, but the numbers aren’t as bad as they appear. Antonio Bastardo pitched his one batter very well. Brad Lidge was working ahead of hitters, just missing with the chance to put them away. Ryan Madson was excellent in closing as well. He allowed a run to on two hits. Both hits came in different senses. Pujols’ double came off the bat of someone who was hitting anything thrown his way. Molina’s hit was on the first pitch, with Madson just trying to get ahead. Otherwise, he located well and threw like a closer should.
This game wasn’t pretty, but most of the grinding Postseason games usually aren’t. The Phillies needed this win to give their Postseason dreams new life. They have it, and now the team that does so well with the task at hand will send their fourth ace out against the Cardinals tomorrow.
The Phillies play tomorrow for their fourth straight trip to the NLCS in Game 4 against the Cardinals. Roy Oswalt gets the start against Edwin Jackson.
L: Jaime Garcia (0-1)
S: Ryan Madson (1)
It took 154 games, but the Phillies have reached a new high (or low) and are on the verge of another new high, er, low. The Phillies had constantly found a way to escape losses and take the impact of a loss and reverse it. For right now, they can’t seem to break any slide they are in. Another night at the Citizens Bank Park was uneventful, unmemorable, and forgettable.
The Nationals opened the scoring in the second, as Wilson Ramos hit a two-run shot.
The Phillies came right back in the second. A pair of singles gave the Phillies a chance. Ben Francisco singled to score one run. Vance Worley would add an RBI single to tie it.
In the third, Raul Ibanez connected on an RBI single to give the Phillies the lead.
The Phillies would hold that lead behind Worley for most of the night. In the sixth, Danny Espinosa belted a two-run shot to give the Nationals the lead.
Worley finished after six, allowing four runs on six hits, walking three, and striking out six. Joe Blanton would pitch a scoreless seventh.
The Phillies went to the eighth with Justin De Fratus on the mound. He allowed a walk and hit a batter before giving way to Antonio Bastardo. Bastardo allowed a run on a bunt attempt, throwing the ball away for an error. Two runs would score in the seventh, one on the error, and another on a single by Ramos.
John Mayberry Jr. trimmed that lead to two, blasting a deep two-run shot to left in the eighth.
That would be all from both sides for the rest of the night. The Phillies had no other answer, and the Phillies dropped their fifth straight game, 7-5.
The Phillies tonight had problems in every sense. It was tough luck mainly, because the issues kept shifting. The Phillies finally scored more than three runs, and of course, it wasn’t enough. Vance Worley wasn’t bad, but he wasn’t great. The bullpen should have kept the gap close. They didn’t, and the Phillies couldn’t escape.
This slump the Phillies are in has hit a dangerous point. It’s only so long before this carries straight into the playoffs, and isn’t solved. Also, with teams like the Cardinals charging hard for a playoff spot, the Phillies won’t want to face a red hot team. At this point, it almost doesn’t matter. These games are meaningless, but the Phillies don’t look anything like they did over the summer, and that will be a problem in the Postseason. The Phillies have lost their dominance, they have lost their swagger, they have lost quite a bit lately. The good teams find a way to get it back, and get it back in a hurry. The Phillies will need to get all the momentum they can in the next seven games. Or at the very least, maybe the Postseason should start soon, because maybe the Phillies would turn things around if they actually had something to play for.
The Phillies try to avoid their first six-game losing streak this season, and first sweep in a series of three games or more tomorrow against the Nationals. Roy Oswalt gets the start against Brad Peacock.
L: Vance Worley (11-3)
S: Henry Rodriguez (1)
The Phillies’ offense entered tonight’s game with seven straight games of scoring three runs or less. With Jaime Garcia on the mound, with an excellent track record against Phils, things weren’t looking great to change that.
The Cardinals forced Vance Worley into a few early jams, including one in the second he couldn’t escape unscathed. Worley walked Rafael Furcal with the bases loaded to bring the first run home.
The Phillies responded, pounding out four hits in the second, including an RBI double by John Mayberry Jr.
Worley battled in his outing tonight, but managed to get through six innings, allowing one run on six hits, walking three, and striking out five.
David Herndon worked out of a bases loaded jam in the seventh by getting a double play to end the threat.
In the eighth, the Cardinals broke through with that big run. Yadier Molina lined a shot deep and off the foul pole to give the Cardinals the lead.
The Phillies would find themselves down to their last out, when Carlos Ruiz lofted one down the line in right. Cory Patterson glided under it in plenty of time, but dropped the ball, allowing Michael Martinez to score the tying run.
The tenth went quickly, with Ryan Madson stranding a leadoff hit.
In the eleventh, Michael Schwimer entered the eleventh in a tie game. Three batters in, with two runners on, Adron Chambers singled to give the Cardinals the lead. Tyler Greene followed with an RBI double to extend the lead.
The Phillies had no answer in the bottom of the 11th and the Phillies fell to the Cardinals in 11 innings, 4-2.
The Phillies tonight looked like a team that either didn’t want to win, or wasn’t ready to win, because most of the game was sloppy. The Cardinals can smell the playoffs. The Phillies were ready to clinch the NL East. The Mets were beating up on the Braves early. So, as the innings rolled along, if the Phillies were to find a way to win, the NL East title would be won as well. The fact remains that as the Braves start slipping, the Cardinals are the team that could get hot and get themselves right into the Postseason. That team is on a mission too, and tonight it showed.
Vance Worley had to deal with a rough strike zone and a lot of pressure from the Cardinals, but managed to hold the Cardinals to one run on a walk of all things. It’s a run that never should have happened.
Still, the Cardinals had plenty of chances to score, and in the late innings, put together some scoring chances to finally break through.
The Phillies weren’t getting the same friendly physics the Cards were. Hunter Pence hit a shot similar to Molina’s, that hooked foul by a matter of feet in the eighth. Ben Francisco hit a shot to the base of the wall that was caught in the seventh. The chances were there, but the Phillies left you feeling that as long as a rally was going in the inning, things had to get done then.
Two major problems for the Phillies’ hopes once the Postseason start were evident tonight. We’ll start with the bullpen.
After Worley left, the Phillies went with David Herndon. Chances are Herndon won’t be around come the Postseason, but, in usual form, he kept things way too interesting.
Next was Antonio Bastardo, who struggled with his command, and allowed the go-ahead homer to Molina. Two things are either wrong with Bastardo. One, he’s coming back to reality with average pitching after an above average surge, or two, he’s truly fatigued, and Charlie Manuel is playing favorites. Charlie has that right once the Postseason starts. But, for now, if the guy’s tired, give him rest. What good will it do to keep using him?
Brad Lidge pitched a scoreless ninth, and looked really good in his relief. He’s starting to take form, and could steal a late-inning job away from others.
Ryan Madson also cemented his closer’s role with a solid tenth. No worries there at all.
Michael Schwimer’s 11th inning struggles were alarming for two reasons. One: there are other pitchers out there. What ever happened to Joe Blanton? How about Mike Stutes? They were still out there, and Charlie took a chance by playing favorites. That simply won’t work in the Postseason.
Now, to the real problem: the offense. The Phillies played 11 innings tonight. They managed seven hits in that time. Four of them came in one inning. And what is most alarming is that not only did they only manage three hits for the final nine innings, the top of the order was invisible tonight. Jimmy Rollins put up an 0-for-5 night, and didn’t hit the ball out of the infield. Shane Victorino has been mired in a slump lately. He walked twice to at least reach base, but was 0-for-3. Chase Utley has also been slumping, and he went 0-for-5 at the plate. Even Hunter Pence couldn’t get the job done as the cleanup hitter, going 0-for-5 as well. A combined 0-for-18 from the top of the order simply won’t win.
A few of the Phillies’ hits were lucky. Ben Francisco’s single in the second was more of an error on the third baseman, and the single that followed by Brian Schneider was a result of a missed cover by the pitcher. Finally, look at the way the Phillies tied it. The game was over right there, and an error helped the Phillies tie it. They made terrible swings all night, and as homers are getting slimmer with the wind and cold playing games, they all keep looking for that big hit. They won’t fix the offense that way.
Bottom line: a lote of issues need to be fixed before the Phillies enter the Postseason in just two weeks. Perhaps it’s nothing that a little champagne and celebration can’t fix. For now, that will have to wait until tomorrow.
The Phillies go for the division title with a win tomorrow over the Cardinals. Roy Oswalt gets the start against Jake Westbrook.
L: Michael Schwimer (1-1)
S: Fernando Salas (24)
It is a pretty rare occasion to find such significant absences in the Phillies’ lineup. But, tonight, the Phillies were without Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and Jimmy Rollins. Ryan Howard has been battling a foot ailment. Rollins was fresh off the DL, but only for emergency use. Utley is back in Philadelphia awaiting tests for a possible mild concussion. And the rest of the Phillies made it clear that there is no reason to worry about resting the stars and preparing for the playoffs, as they once again stood tall against a potential playoff foe.
For most of the game, this was a pitcher’s duel. Through four innings, Cole Hamels had faced one over the minimum. Chris Narveson was pitching a no-hitter. Finally in the fifth, the Brewers broke through first. Yuniesky Betancourt homered to left-center, a solo shot, giving the Brewers the lead.
But, the Phillies are never put away with just one swing. The sixth was their time to shine. A two-out double by Shane Victorino gave the Phillies a chance. That’s when some of the fill-ins got a chance to contribute. Wilson Valdez was first, doubling home Victorino to tie the game. After Placido Polanco walked, Hunter Pence delivered with a two-run triple, giving the Phillies the lead. John Mayberry Jr. added an RBI single, Carlos Ruiz added an RBI double, and finally, an RBI single by Ben Francisco capped a six-run sixth.
Corey Hart trimmed the lead with a solo shot in the sixth for the Brewers, but that was all the Brewers could get off Cole Hamels.
A ninth-inning insurance run was added by Pence, who picked up three RBIs on the night.
Hamels limited the Brewers all night. Just two big swings from the Brewers was all they had to show off Hamels, and hot hitters Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder combined to go 1-for-8 tonight. Hamels would stay in for the ninth, and finish the job, allowing two runs on four hits, walking two and striking out two in a complete-game effort, as the Phillies picked up their fourth straight win, 7-2.
Tonight’s game was one that shows the Phillies are the team to beat, and there’s no question. After sweeping the Braves with three excellent games, all different in their own way, the Phillies tamed one of the hottest teams in baseball lately. The Brewers are running away with the NL Central. They will likely have the next best record in the National League. They were also baseball’s best team at home. The Phillies ignored all factors, and despite being shorthanded, picked up a huge win.
After being no-hit for four innings, the Phillies really poured it on the rest of the way. Wilson Valdez, Hunter Pence, John Mayberry Jr., and Ben Francisco each had multi-hit nights. Pence led the team with three RBIs, while the other three each added one of their own. With the exception of Hamels, every starter at the plate had a hit.
And with Hamels dominating on the mound again, he would not be denied a win tonight. Game’s like this look like one that will be decided on one swing, especially when the scoring is low, and the pitchers are dealing. But, Hamels had a bounce-back offense, and carried the team the rest of the way after a huge sixth at the plate.
The Braves played a doubleheader with the Mets today, and won both games. The NL East lead is down to 10 games, but the magic number is reduced by one to 11. Everything is getting closer. And it won’t be long before the Phillies can stop calling everything a test for the Postseason. They are ready to go. All they need is a little health and an opponent.
The Phillies go for their fifth straight win tomorrow night against the Brewers. Roy Halladay gets the start against Shawn Marcum.
L: Chris Narveson (10-7)
The way the Phillies won their games against the Reds in 2010 must have left the Reds shell-shocked. Because since three straight extra-inning walk-off wins helped the Phillies sweep the Reds in July of last season, the Phillies have had the Reds’ number. It included a Postseason sweep in the NLDS last season. It included a near sweep of the Reds this June, with the only loss coming in the ninth inning, in a rare hiccup by the bullpen. And now, it also includes a four-game sweep of the Reds in Cincinnati.
As with many of their wins this season, the Phillies are finding a way to get a head start by taking advantage of early opportunities. That trend continued today, as the Phillies jumped on the board in the second. It started with an RBI single by Brian Schneider. Even Vance Worley got in the fun, driving home one run on a single. Schneider tried to score on the same play, but was thrown out at the plate. That didn’t seem to matter to Shane Victorino, who followed with a clutch two-out single, adding another run to the Phillies total, and capping a three-run second inning for the Phils.
The Reds had spent the previous two nights wondering what they had to do to get on the scoreboard. In the third, the Phillies shutout streak came to a close, but minimally. Brandon Phillips led off the third with a double, but a nice diving stop by Wilson Valdez got the Phillies an out as Phillips advanced to third. He scored on a sacrifice fly by Joey Votto.
From the second inning on, the Phillies seemed to be clinging to that three-run innings. Until Mr. September showed up. Ryan Howard’s best month at the plate is September. He entered September 1st, 2011 with a career .302 average and 56 home runs. In the sixth, he made it 57, belting a screamer to center that just cleared the fence for a solo shot, his 30th of the season. That marked the sixth straight season Howard has posted 30 or more home runs and 100 or more RBIs.
The Phillies didn’t stop there. With a leadoff single by Valdez appearing to go by the wayside, Michael Martinez added his mark to this one, belting a two-run shot to right.
Things took a different turn in the seventh. With Worley cruising, the Reds finally found something. A leadoff double by Drew Stubbs and a single by Ryan Hanigan set up a scoring chance. That’s when Chris Heisey belted a three-run shot to right, cutting the lead to two. That ended Worley’s day. He finished going six-plus innings, allowing four runs on eight hits. He also walked one and struck out seven.
That was still plenty good enough for his 10th win of the season, thanks to the bullpen. Brad Lidge entered for two batters in the seventh. He struck out one and walked the other. Antonio Bastardo came on and promptly got Joey Votto to ground into an inning-ending double play.
Bastardo added a scoreless eighth, and Ryan Madson pitched a scoreless ninth for the save, giving the Phillies a 6-4 win and completing a sweep of the Reds.
At the beginning of the season, I made predictions on every player I thought would have something to do with the Phillies. So, while Domonic Brown didn’t take on the role I thought, or Ben Francisco didn’t turn out to be the starting right fielder we thought he would be, most of them were right on the money. But, you can’t predict injuries or trades. So, no Joe Blanton for half the year – actually what I expected, but I thought he’d be traded, not hurt. Kyle Kendrick as the long man – again, partially expected, but I gave him the fifth starter spot. And out of nowhere came the Vanimal – Vance Worley. My prediction for Worley this season was simple – a 2-0 record, a modest 3.76 ERA, 46 strikeouts, and mostly relief appearances. I did mention that his spot starts last season improved his rank in the Phils’ system, and that he could have an impact. But, who’d have believed Worley would be approaching win totals and an ERA among the likes of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels?
That’s what Worley did today, joining the Big Three in double-digits wins, as he continued to make a strong case for being the fourth starter in the Postseason. That’s something to definitely look at now. The Phillies have won 13 straights starts by Worley, and that’s no accident. Worley’s 10-1 record and 2.85 ERA may not win him Rookie of the Year, but it certainly gets him recognized. He’s simply turning into one of the guys, an ace of the future perhaps.
With pitching like this, you can’t even fault the offense for having a huge outburst in the early innings, then doing nothing the rest of the game. When three runs or less will suffice, you take it, because a win is a win is a win. All these wins keep doing is bringing the Phillies closer to their fifth straight division title. With the Phillies facing the lowly Marlins over the weekend, then following with the rival Braves, who have started to come back to Earth after their hot stretch, another division celebration could be closer than you think.
The Phillies conclude their week-long road trip with a three-game series with the Marlins.
L: Mike Leake (11-9)
S: Ryan Madson (26)
The Phillies offense had scored five runs or more just twice in the past week. So what they are doing to the Mets so far this series is a very good sign that this team hasn’t lost their firepower with the bats. And with a secret weapon of sorts on the mound, continuing to light it up with each start, the Phillies are flying high again, and proving that not even a force of nature, like this afternoon’s earthquake, could stop them.
The Phillies would strike first in this one in the third, and they did it in a big way. Shane Victorino blasted a solo shot down the left field line to start. Four batters later, John Mayberry Jr. was at it again, as he crushed one into the stands in left for a three-run shot, capping a four-run inning.
The Phillies picked up another run in the fourth on an RBI single by Placido Polanco.
In the fifth, the Phillies piled on some more. First, Wilson Valdez added a sac fly. Vance Worley followed, singling home another run. Shane Victorino followed that by bringing home two more with a two-run triple, capping a four-run frame.
None of that may have been possible without some excellent pitching from Worley first. In the first inning, he had runners at the corners with no outs, and managed to get an out at home on a grounder to third. He would load the bases with a walk, but struck out a pair in the inning, both looking. After allowing two more baserunners in scoring position in the second with no outs, and struck out the side, again all on called third strikes.
It was just the beginning of a career night for Worley, who allowed just one run over seven innings, while walking one and striking out a career-high nine. Mike Stutes came on for the final two innings, and did allow three runs, but the Phillies had done enough, as they rolled past the Mets again, this time by a score of 9-4.
It was another night of long fly balls and solid pitching for the Phillies, and with a secure lead in the division, the Phillies just simply keep playing solid baseball, without any sign of complacency. That may be the most important things for the Phillies, who need to keep the foot on the gas for the rest of the season. They improved to 39 games above .500, at 83-44, and continue to dominate division foes.
The offense had another banner night. The top of the order continued to lead the way, as both Shane Victorino and Placido Polanco each went 2-for-5. Victorino drove in three runs on the night. Ben Francisco quietly had a solid night at the plate, going 3-for-3. Even Vance Worley turned in a multi-hit night, going 2-for-3. But, the hottest hitter in this lineup is John Mayberry Jr., and he turned in another strong night. He went 2-for-4, and hit yet another home run.
But, the real story of the night was Vance Worley, who easily turned in what has to be his best outing this season. Having to work around two early jams was difficult enough. The fact that he was able to freeze the Mets’ hitters one after one with his fastball was just incredible. He was able to cruise once he had the lead, and that carried him to his 9th win of the season.
Now, the Phillies have a chance at another sweep. And with the way the offense is hitting, this one could come pretty easily.
The Phillies go for the sweep tomorrow afternoon against the Mets. Kyle Kendrick gets the start against Mike Pelfrey.
L: Jon Niese (11-11)
For six innings, it looked like a carbon copy of last night’s game was unfolding before us. Then, the revitalized Phillies’ offense came to life. After Cliff Lee gave the Phillies yet another gutsy performance, the Phillies gave him plenty of run support, as the Phillies bounced back from last night’s tough loss with a convincing win over the D’Backs.
The Phillies struck right away in this one. Joe Saunders first pitch of the ballgame was blasted by Jimmy Rollins into the seats in center, giving the Phillies the early lead.
The D’Backs had a quick answer. A leadoff walk by Chris Young opened the second. That was followed by a two-run shot from Paul Goldschmidt into center, giving the D’Backs the lead.
The Phillies bounced right back to tie it. Hunter Pence doubled to lead off the second. John Mayberry Jr. followed with a base hit up the middle into center, scoring Pence, but in a weird way. Pence apparently didn’t see the ball go into center, and slid into third base before jumping up and racing in to score. Still, the game was tied.
Cliff Lee had to battle through tough at-bats against the D’Backs, but his only mistake of the night was Goldschmidt’s home run. Lee battled through seven solid innings, allowing two runs on three hits, walking two and striking out seven.
The Phillies still needed to get Lee some runs in the bottom of the seventh to help him to a win. Pence led off the inning with a walk, and Mayberry reached with a base hit. That brought Wilson Valdez to the plate. Valdez didn’t have a home run on the season to date. He nearly put the Phillies on top with a three-run crank. Instead, he belted one off the wall in center, bringing in Pence and Mayberry, and putting the Phillies back on top. The Phillies weren’t done there. Brian Schneider bunted Valdez to third. Ben Francisco followed, pinch-hitting for Lee, and nearly hitting a shot as well. He flied out to deep center, but plenty deep enough to score Valdez, capping the three-run frame.
In the eighth, the Phillies broke it wide open. Ryan Howard and Pence led off the inning with singles. Mayberry followed with a slow chopper to third. Mayberry beat the play out at first, and as the ball rolled away at first on the single, Howard scored easily. Valdez came up next and attempted to move the runners up with a bunt. But, pitcher Brad Ziegler tred for the out at third, and all runners were safe. That set up an RBI single by Brian Schneider, a sac fly by Jimmy Rollins, and an RBI double by Shane Victorino. That capped a four-run inning.
Antonio Bastardo took over for Lee in the eighth, and pitched a perfect inning. Ryan Madson walked a batter in the ninth, but retired the D’Backs to finish off the Phillies’ 9-2 win.
Tonight’s game was on the same path as last night’s. There was some frustration early, as Cliff Lee struggled through the second, and saw his pitch count increase rapidly. Still, he managed to settle in to throw a solid ballgame, plenty good enough for his 13th win of the season.
The offense had something going from the beginning, but Joe Saunders managed to hold the Phillies to two runs on three hits for much of the night. The seventh and eighth innings changed all that in a hurry, and turned it into a laugher. Among the offensive stars, everyone had a hit except for Chase Utley. Hunter Pence was perfect at the plate, going 2-for-2 with a pair of walks and three runs scored. John Mayberry Jr. went 3-for-4 with an RBI. Shane Victorino and Jimmy Rollins also added two-hit nights.
For the Phillies to win a game like this against the Diamondbacks, it shows that last night didn’t weigh on them too much. It was exactly the type of bounce back game they needed to have. Now, they have a chance at the series win tomorrow.
The Phillies look for another win tomorrow night against the D’Backs. Vance Worley gets the start against Ian Kennedy.
L: Joe Saunders (8-10)