For the second time in the franchise’s long history, the Phils have won their third straight NL Eastern Division title, thanks to the Marlins’ 5-4 defeat of the Braves in Atlanta, while the Phils crushed the Astros in Citizens Bank Park, 10-3.
The Astros took a quick 1-0 lead in the first as, with the bases loaded, via singles to Miguel Tejada, Lance Berkman and Carlos Lee, and with two men out, Hunter Pence received an RBI walk, forcing in Tejada, while moving up a base both Berkman and Lee. The Phillies would tie the game up at one-all in their half of the first as, with one man on, and with one man out, Chase Utley hits an RBI ground out, 6-3, knocking in Jimmy Rollins, who had earlier doubled, and then went to third on Shane Victorino’s sacrifice bunt, 1-3. The Astros retook the lead in the second as J.R. Towles hits a lead-off home run, after the umpires had corrected their earlier ruling that the ball had stayed in the park via instant replay, his first home run of the season, giving the Astros a 2-1 lead. The Astros added to their lead in the fourth as Towles hits another lead-off home run, his second home run of the night, and of the season, making it a 3-1 Astros’ lead. The Phils then struck back in their half of the fourth. With two men on, and with nobody out, Ryan Howard hits an RBI single, scoring Victorino, who had earlier singled, and then stole second base, making it a 3-2 Astros’ lead, while sending Utley, who had just walked, to third base. The next batter, Raul Ibanez, then hits a grounder to the Astros’ starter Brian Moehler. Moehler immediately threw to second base, hoping to start a double play. Unfortunately, there was no one covering second, as the ball sails into center field, allowing Utley to score, tying the game at three-all, and sending Howard to third, while Ibanez would end up being safe at second on the fielder’s choice-throwing error. Jayson Werth then followed with a ground out RBI, 6-3, for the inning’s first out, as Howard scored, giving the Phillies a 4-3 lead, while sending Ibanez on to third. Pedro Feliz then followed with an RBI double, knocking in Ibanez, making it a 5-3 Phils’ lead. The Phils added to their lead in the fifth as, with a runner on third, and with nobody out, Victorino hits an RBI triple, knocking in Rollins, who had earlier tripled, giving the Phillies a 6-3 lead. Three batters later, now with two men on, as Howard was intentionally walked, and with one out, Ibanez hits a sacrifice fly, scoring Victorino, making it a 7-3 Phils’ lead. The Phillies would make it 8-3 in the sixth as, with a runner on base, and with nobody out, Carlos Ruiz hits an RBI double, knocking in Feliz, who had earlier singled, before being thrown at third trying to stretched his double into a triple, 9-6-5. The Phils then scored one last time in the seventh as, with a man on base, and with two men out, Ibanez hits a two-run home run, his thirty-fourth home run of the season, scoring Howard, who had just walked, giving the Phils a 10-3 lead. In the ninth, after Kyle Kendrick, the game winner, had pitched three shut out innings in relief of Phils’ starter Pedro Martinez, and Chad Durbin had pitched one scoreless inning, the Phils sent Scott Eyre to the mound to pitch his first game in several weeks. Eyre started the inning off by getting Michael Bourn to fly out to center for the first out. He then got Tejada to fly out to center for the inning’s second out. Meanwhile, in Atlanta, the Marlins were holding on to a 5-4 lead, with the bases loaded. After Brendan Donnelly was brought into the game to face Martin Prado, he threw a first pitch ball that got past Marlins’ catcher Ronny Paulino. But, the ball hit the backstop and came back to Paulino, catching Matt Diaz off third base. Paulino threw a strike to the Marlins’ third baseman Wes Helms, who applied the tag on a diving Diaz for the final out, giving the Marlins’ the win, and the Phils’ the pennant. Back in Philly, Charlie Manuel had come to the mound, taking out Eyre and bringing in Brad Lidge to record the final out. Which Lidge would do with one pitch as Berkman grounded out to Howard, three-unassisted, for the final out.
Pedro Martinez received a no-decision as he went four innings, giving up three runs on six hits and a walk, as he struck out two. Kyle Kendrick got the win as he pitched three scoreless innings, giving up only two hits, while striking out three batters. His record is now 3-1 with a 2.66 ERA. Chad Durbin pitched a scoreless inning, giving up only a walk. Scott Eyre pitched two-thirds of an inning, getting two fly outs. Brad Lidge pitched a third of an inning, getting the final out. Brian Moehler took the lost as he went four and a third innings, giving up seven runs on six hits and three walks, while striking out one. His record is now 8-12 with a 5.47 ERA. Wesley Wright pitched two-thirds of an inning. Samuel Gervacio pitched an inning, giving up a run on two hits, while striking out one. Tim Byrdak pitched an inning, giving up two runs on one hit and two walks. Jose Valverde pitched a scoreless inning, walking a batter.
The Phils had nine hits in the game, with Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino and Pedro Feliz leading the team with two hits each, with both of Rollins’ hits being for extra bases, a double and a triple, scoring two runs, while one of Victorino’s hits was a triple, as he knocked in a run, while one of Feliz’s hits was a double, as he also knocked in a run. Ryan Howard, Raul Ibanez and Carlos Ruiz had the other three Phils’ hits, with Ibanez’s hits being a two-run home run, as he knocked in three runs, while Ruiz’s hit was a double, knocking in a run. Chase Utley, Howard and Jayson Werth knocked in the other three Phils’ RBIs. The Phils’ offense came out swinging, finally knocking around Moehler in the fourth. With the clinching, Charlie Manuel will be giving some of his regulars a well needed rest, while trying to see if he can lead the Phils to the best record in the National League so that they can get home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
The Phils (92-66, 1st East) will conclude their four-games home stand with the Astros (73-85, 5th Central) with a night game. The game will start tonight at 7:05 pm Eastern and will be played at Citizens Bank Park. The Phils expected starter will be Cliff Lee (14-12 (7-3), 3.19 (3.28)), who is coming off a lost against the Brewers on September 25, where he went six innings, giving up seven runs on nine hits, while striking out six, in the Phils’ 8-4 lost. He will be trying to recapture his form when he first came to the Phils before the July trade deadline. The Astros will counter with Felipe Paulino (2-11, 6.51), who is coming off a lost to the Reds on September 26, as he went five innings, giving up eight runs on nine hits and four walks, while striking out three, in the Astros’ 10-4 lost. He will be trying to keep from being hit hard by the Phils. The Phils will be trying to balance resting some of their starters while at the same time trying to see if they can establish their post-season form.