Trailing the Pirates 7-3 in the bottom of the ninth, a pair of home runs by pinch hitter Matt Stairs and Ryan Howard and a walk-off single by Paul Bako gave the Phils a dramatic five-run come from behind win. The win, with a Marlins’ lost to the Diamondbacks, leads to a Phils’ four game lead in the NL East.
The Pirates took a 1-0 lead in the first as, with two men out, Garrett Jones hits a solo home run, his fourth home run of the season. Two batters later, with a man on base, and still two men out, Delwyn Young hits a two-run home run, his third home run of the year, knocking in Ryan Doumit, who had earlier doubled, giving the Pirates a 3-0 lead. In the second, the Pirates would increase their lead to 5-0 as, with a runner on base, and two men out, Andrew McCutchen hits a two-run home run of his own, his second home run of the year, knocking in Andy LaRoche, who had earlier doubled. The Phils would start cutting the Bucos lead in the sixth as, two men on, and one man out, Raul Ibanez, who was in his first game back since coming off the disabled list, hits an RBI double, knocking in Chase Utley, who had earlier singled, and had gone to second on Ryan Howard’s single, making it a 5-1 Pirates’ lead, while sending Howard, who had just singled, over to third. Two batters later, after Jayson Werth had walked to load the bases, Greg Dobbs hits a sacrifice fly, knocking in Howard, cutting the Pirates’ lead down to 5-2, while Ibanez would move up to third. Paul Bako then made it a 5-3 Pirates’ lead as he hits an RBI single, scoring Ibanez, while sending Werth up to second base. The Pirates would get two of the runs back in the seventh as, with the bases loaded, and one man out, Jones received an RBI walk, forcing in Jack Wilson, who had earlier singled, had gone to second on pinch hitter Jeff Salazar’s walk, and then went to third on McCutchen’s force out, as Salazar is wiped out at second, 5-4, for the inning’s first out, while McCutchen is safe at first, making it a 6-3 Pirates’ lead, while leaving the bases loaded as Freddy Sanchez, who was batting when McCutchen stole second base, had walked to load the bases, moved up to second, while McCutchen went on to third. Doumit then made it a 7-3 Pirates’ lead as he hits an RBI ground out, 5-3, for the inning’s second out, scoring McCutchen, while sending Sanchez to third, and Jones up to second base. The Phils then came back in the bottom of the ninth inning. Pinch hitter Matt Stairs started things off with a lead-off home run, his fourth home run of the season, making it a 7-4 Pirates’ lead. Jimmy Rollins then walked. After Shane Victorino flied out for the inning’s first out, Rollins stole second base with Utley batting. Utley then singled, putting runners on the corner as Rollins went to third. Howard then tied the game at seven-all as he hits a three-run home run, his twenty-second home run of the season, knocking in both Rollins and Utley. Ibanez then hit a double, followed by an intentional walk to Werth, putting two men on base. Pedro Feliz then loaded the bases with an infield single, moving Ibanez to third and Werth up to second. Bako then won the game with an RBI single, knocking in Ibanez with the winning run, as the Phils won the games, 8-7.
Cole Hamels received a no-decision as he pitched six innings, giving up five runs on seven hits, while striking out six. Chad Durbin pitched a third of an inning, giving up two runs on a hit and two walks. Scott Eyre pitched one and two-thirds scoreless innings, giving up just one hit and a walk. Tyler Walker received the win as he pitched a scoreless inning, giving up only a hit. His record is now 1-0 with an ERA of 1.64. Ross Ohlendorf also received a no-decision as he pitched five and two-thirds innings, giving up three runs on five hits and four walks, while striking out five. Jesse Chavez recorded his fifth hold as he pitched a third of an inning, althought giving up a hit. John Grabow pitched two scoreless innings, giving up just one hit and one walk, while striking out three. Matt Capps took the lost as he pitched only a third of an inning, giving up five runs on six hits and two walks.
The Phillies had thirteen hits in the game, with Ryan Howard leading the team with three hits, with one of the hits being a three-run home run, as he raised his batting average to .258. Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, a returning Raul Ibanez and Paul Bako all followed with two hits apiece. Pedro Feliz and pinch hitter Matt Stairs had the other two hits, with Stairs’ hit being a pinch hit home run, starting the five-run ninth inning. Besides Howard’s three RBIs and Stairs’ one, Ibanez knocked in a run, Greg Dobbs brought home a run with a sac fly, while Bako knocked in two, including the game winner. The Phils, with the win, have won their third straight series at home, while winning eight of the nine games so far played in the ten-games home stand.
The Phillies (47-38, 1st National League East) will play their final game before the All-Star break with the Pirates (38-49, 5th National League Central). The game will be played at Citizens Bank Park and will begin at 1:35 pm Eastern time. J.A. Happ (5-0, 3.04), will start the game for the Phils as he comes off a no-decision against the Reds on July 7, as he went seven innings, giving up three runs on six hits, while striking out seven, in the Phils’ 4-3 lost. He will once again be going for his sixth win of the season. The Pirates will counter with Virgil Vasquez (1-2, 4.50), who is coming off a lost against the Astros on July 6, as he went six innings, giving up four runs on seven hits and three walks, while striking out only two, in the Pirates’ 4-1 lost. He will be trying to help the Pirates avoid a series sweep. The Phils will be trying for their ninth win in the ten-games home stand, while trying to increase their lead even further in the NL East.
The Phillies loses another close game in Spring Training, this time in spite of taking the lead with a five-run sixth inning, thanks to Blaine Neal being unable to hold off the Pirates in the ninth, as the Phils lose 6-5. Joe Blanton starts the game off for the Phils, going four and two-thirds innings, giving up only two runs on five hits and a balk while he struck out two. Robert Mosebach follows for an inning and a third, giving up a run on two hits and a walk. Ryan Madson and Scott Nestor follows with both men pitching an inning in relief, with each giving up a hit apiece as Madson strikes out three batters and Nestor two. Blaine Neal pitches an inning, losing the game as he gives up three runs on three hits, with the big blow being Jeff Salazar’s three-run home run, and a walk while striking out one. Blaine’s spring training record is now 0-2 with a 23.63 ERA, as he is also credited with a blown save. So far this spring, the Phils first four starters are pitching well, while both J.A. Happ and Chan Ho Park are both pitching well to claim the fifth and final spot in the rotation. If this keeps up, the starting rotation might become the strength of the Phillies arsenal this season like the bullpen was last season.
Among the batters, the Phils were quiet for most of the game, but had a five-run explosion in the sixth. The batters had nine hits, with Jason Donald leading the way with two hits, as he went 2 for 5 with a run scored, as he now has a .361 spring training batting average. Eric Bruntlett, Raul Ibanez, Ryan Howard, Jayson Werth, John Mayberry, Jr., Miguel Cairo and Carlos Ruiz got the other Phils hits. Howard got two more RBIs with a two-run blast, his fifth home run of the spring, while Ibanez, Cairo and Ruiz knock in the other three runs. Donald is impressing the brass with his batting, as is Mayberry. Also, Pedro Feliz was in the lineup, playing third base for several innings, although going 0 for 2.
The Phillies continue Grapefruit League play by facing the Houston Astros this afternoon, while the Astros will also be involved in a split squad game with the New York Mets.
In other Phillies news, it has been announced that Chase Utley might be ready to participate in some games next week, putting him on schedule for actually playing on Opening Night next month with the Atlanta Braves. If so, that would be very good news for the Phils. And ex-Phil and now Tampa Bay Ray, Pat Burrell, took out a pair of big ads which appeared in yesterday’s Philadelphia Inquirer, thanking the fans for their support during his nine seasons as a Phil. A real nice move by Pat the Bat.