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June 14 2007

An unlikely group of pitchers, including Kyle Kendrick, Mike Zagurski and Yoel Hernandez, carried the pitching load for the Phillies yesterday as the team hit its high water mark for the season. 

If the pitching was a surprise, nobody who has been watching the Phillies all season could have been surprised to see the biggest hit of the night come off the bat of Aaron Rowand as he faced his former mates.  His seventh-inning grand slam put the Phillies up to stay on a day they started a pitcher called up from Double-A to make his major league debut.

The Phillies beat the Chicago White Sox yesterday, winning 8-4 to improve to 35-31 on the year.  They are four games above .500 for the first time this season.  With the sweep of the Sox in the three-game series, they move into a tie with the Braves for second-place in the NL East.  Both teams are two games behind the Mets, who lost their fifth straight last night.

Kyle Kendrick got the start for the Phillies, making his major league debut.  He was impressive, going six innings and allowed three runs on six hits and two walks.  Three of the hits went for extra-bases and he struck out four.  He settled down nicely after allowing a run in each of the first three innings he pitched.

In the first, Kendrick got Jerry Owens on a ground ball to short for the first out.  Alex Cintron followed and he doubled into right off the tip of the glove of Howard at first.  Jim Thome was next and he hit one in front of the plate.  Barajas threw him out at first as Cintron went to third.  Jermaine Dye was next and he doubled out of the reach of Victorino in center, scoring Cintron to put Chicago up 1-0.  AJ Pierzinski grounded to short for the third out.

With the score tied at 1-1 in the second, Luis Terrero led off and was hit by a pitch.  He stole second and Josh Fields scored him with a single into center to put the White Sox back up 2-1.  Victorino's throw home was off line and Fields went to second.  Kendrick struck out Juan Uribe and pitcher John Danks and got Owens on a fly ball to left to end the frame.

The Phils tied the game at 2-2 again in the bottom of the second.  Cintron started the top of the third with a single into center and Thome followed and hit one under the glove of Howard at first.  It was the second play on the day that it looked like Howard could have made -- neither were called an error.  This one also cost the Phils a run.  Cintron went to third on Thome's single.  Dye followed and hit into a double-play with Cintron scoring from third to put Chicago up 3-2.  Pierzinski grounded to first to end the frame.

In the fourth, Kendrick issued the first walk of his career.  It came to Fields with one out, but Kendrick followed it up by getting Uribe to hit into a double-play, also a first of Kendrick's career, giving Kendrick the first scoreless inning of his career.

Kendrick got the first two in the fifth before Cintron doubled to right for his third hit of the day.  With a base open, the Phillies walked Thome to pitch to the righty Dye.  Dye hit one into right and Werth made a diving catch for the third out -- Kendrick gets back a
little of the defense he missed with Howard.

Kendrick threw a 1-2-3 sixth, striking out Fields for his fourth strikeout on the day to end the frame.

Madson started the seventh.  Uribe led off and reached on an error by Helms at third.  With the score tied at 3-3, Thornton hit for himself and struck out trying to bunt.  Thanks.  Owens was next and Uribe was running as he grounded to short.  Rollins could only get one out at first.  With two down and a runner on second, Cintron grounded to second to end the frame.

Mike Zagurski started the eighth with an 8-3 lead and the first two men he faced hit their way aboard.  Thome singled and Dye moved him to third with a double.  Zagurski got the lefty Pierzinski on a ground ball that scored Thome from third and made the score 8-4.  Dye
went to third on the play.  With the righty Terrero due to hit, Hernandez came in to pitch and got Terrero on a popup to second.  Hernandez struck out Fields to end the inning.  Great job by Hernandez to turn the White Sox away after entering the game with one
down and a man on third.

With no game today, Alfonseca started the ninth with an 8-4 lead.  He walked the leadoff man, but narrowly avoided self-destructing with the help many a Phil.  He didn't like the call on the pitch he walked Uribe on to start the inning, but got the next batter, Rob Mackowiack, to hit into a double-play.  Owens singled to right with two outs, but Alfonseca got Cintron on a fly ball to left to end the game.

The Phillies' lineup against lefty John Danks went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Werth (7) Helms (8) Barajas.  Great lineup, maybe my favorite of the season.  Victorino in center, Werth in right and Helms at third.  Four righties in a row
after the first four go switch/switch/left/left.  Burrell hitting fifth with Rowand on the bench.  Nice to see Victorino in center, where he belongs, and I'd love to see Helms and Werth play all the time against lefties.

With one out in the first, Victorino walked and stole second.  Utley singled into right, scoring Victorino and tying the game at 1-1.  Howard popped to third for the second out Burrell grounded to third to end the inning.

Werth led off the second and flew out to left but Helms followed and homered, his first of the year, to left to tie the game at 2-2.  Barajas struck out for the second out, but Kendrick followed and singled into right off the glove of Dye for a hit in his first career at-bat.  Rollins grounded back to the pitcher for the final out of the inning.

With two outs in the third, Howard singled into center and Burrell followed with a walk.  It put men on first and second with two down for Werth, who struck out on a pitch high and outside to end the inning.

The Phils went 1-2-3 in the fourth.

In the fifth, with one out Victorino singled into right and Utley followed with a walk.  Howard struck out for the second out.  With two down and two men on and Burrell due to hit, the White Sox pulled the lefty Danks and brought in righty Ryan Bukvich to Burrell.  Bukvich got Burrell on a ground ball to third with the help of a nice diving play by Fields to end the inning.

With the Phils down 3-2 in the sixth, Werth led off with a ground ball to short.  Uribe took longer than he had, double-pumping, and Werth was called safe at first with a single on a close play.  Huge play and a huge call, cause Helms followed with a single to center that gave the Phils men on first and third with nobody out for Barajas.  Barajas was caught looking for the first out.  With the righty Bukvich on the mound and the lefty Matt Thornton in the pen, Rowand hit for Kendrick against the righty.  The other choice was Dobbs, which would have no doubt forced the White Sox to call on Thornton, so the choice came down to Rowand against Bukvich with Bukvich still in the game or Dobbs against Thornton.  Or the Phillies could have announced Dobbs and pinch-hit Rowand for him against Thornton, burning Dobbs.  Rowand hit a ground ball to third and the only play for Fields was to first base.  Helms went to second with two outs and the game tied at 3-3.  Thorton did come in and pitch to Rollins and walked him.  Victorino followed and grounded to short, called out on a close play with a nice scoop from Thome.  Tough call on who to pinch-hit there, especially so early in the game.  It worked out for the Phillies, but I think I would have announced Dobbs and let Rowand pinch-hit for him against Thornton even though it
wastes Dobbs so early in the game.  But Rowand would get a chance against Thornton later in the game and things worked out just fine.  Barajas' strikeout with first and third and nobody out hurt.

Utley started the seventh with a double.  Howard was next and struck out swinging at ball four for the first out.  With the lefty Thornton still on the bump, Chicago walked Burrell intentionally to put men on first and second with one down.  Nunez pinch-hit for Madson and looped one over the head of Thome and into right.  Utley scored and Burrell went to third with the Phils up 4-3.  Bourn ran for Burrell at third, and with two out and men on the corners, Helms popped to second for the second out.   Barajas walked to load the bases and Rowand, who had stayed in the game to play center after pinch-hitting in the sixth, hit a grand slam to left to put the Phils up 8-3.  Rollins flew to left to end the inning.  The White Sox sure left Thornton in for a while -- he pitched the whole inning, facing righties Helms and Barajas with men aboard before Rowand finally killed him with the big home run.

Boone Logan struck out Victorino, Utley and Howard in the eighth.  Still don't think the Phils are trading Rowand for him.  Thornton probably didn't wow a lot of people in the Phils' front office, either, come to think of it.  He was the victim of some odd decisions, though, hitting for himself in the top of the seventh in a tie game and going and going in the bottom of the inning.  Even if his bunt works in the top of the seventh, I don't think I'd bet on the Chicago pen to hold a one-run lead against the Phils for three innings.

Rollins was 0-for-4 with a walk.  2-for-13 with a double and a homer in the series.  278/324/503 on the year. 

Victorino 1-for-4 with a walk.  3-for-12 with three singles and a walk in the series.  Stole three bases.  269/339/386 on the year.

Utley 2-for-4 with a walk, a double and an RBI.  6-for-11 with a double, a home run and five RBI in the set.  313/393/566 on the year, all career highs. 

Howard had an awful game with the bat and the glove.  1-for-5 with three strikeouts and four men left on base.  3-for-11 with two walks and a home run in the series.  239/389/521.

Burrell was 0-for-2 with two walks and three men left on base.  1-for-6 with a home run and fives walks in the series.  219/386/401 on the year and 162/319/378 in June.

Werth was 1-for-3 with a big catch in right field in the fifth.  1-for-4 in the series.  243/333/386.

Helms was 2-for-4 with, finally, a home run.  2-for-5 with a home run in the series.  252/306/329.  The Phillies are among the best offensive teams in baseball this season despite the miserable year for Helms -- if he heats up the Phils are going to be tough on lefties especially.

Barajas was 0-for-3 with a walk and a big strikeout in the sixth.  1-for-9 with a double and two walks in the series.  214/365/393.  Ruiz and his sore wrist last got an at-bat on June 10.

Rowand was 1-for-2 with a grand slam and five RBI.  1-for-8 in the series.  318/389/492.

Dobbs never did get into today's game.  He was 2-for-7 in the series.  284/323/526 on the year.

Bourn has two at-bats since May 29, none of which came in this series.  It's hard to feel like the Phillies think he's a real prospect given the way they're using him.  Needs some at-bats, even if they're at Ottawa.

Nunez came off the bench to deliver a big hit yesterday.  Just 1-for-1 in the series with his fourth hit in 27 June at-bats  (.148).  258/317/320 on the year as his numbers continue to tumble -- he was hitting 315/370/402 after going 2-for-3 on May 23.

No game today.  Tigers tomorrow. 

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