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August 3 2006

The Phillies beat the St Louis Cardinals last night 16-8, improving their record on the season to 51-55.  They are in second place in the NL East, 13 games behind the Mets, and 3 1/2 back in the Wild Card hunt.  They trail four teams and have 56 games left to play.  They've won two in a row, five out of seven, and seven of their last ten.  Bobby Abreu last played for them in a 4-1 loss on July 28.  Since then the Phillies are 5-1 and have scored 53 runs in the five games they've won.

Brett Myers got the start for the Phillies.  He went six innings, allowing six runs on nine hits.  He didn't walk anyone and struck out eight.  Two of the nine hits went for extra-bases, a double and a home run.

After setting the Cards down 1-2-3 in the first, Myers started the bottom of the second with a 5-0 lead.  Edmonds singled with one out before Myers got Encarnacion to fly to center for the second out of the inning.  Chris Duncan followed with a two-run homer to left, making the score 5-2 before Myers got Molina to end the inning.

Myers kept St Louis off the board in innings three through five.  In the third he gave up a one-out single but got Belliard to ground into an inning-ending double-play.  He set St Louis down 1-2-3 in the fourth and the fifth, striking out four of the six men he faced.  He started the sixth up 8-2. 

In the sixth he gave up a leadoff single to Aaron Miles, who went to second on an Eckstein ground out.  Myers struck out Chris Spiezio for the second out of the inning, but Pujols followed with a single that sent Miles to third, making it first and third with two outs for Rolen.  Rolen singled, making the score 8-3.  Edmonds followed with a ground out that ended the inning.

Myers started the seventh still up 8-3 and things went downhill quickly.  Encarnacion singled and Duncan doubled, setting up a two-run single from Yadier Molina that made the score 8-5 with nobody out and a man on first.  Manuel went to the pen, calling on Ryan Madson, who has apparently become the odd-man out of the rotation thanks to the return of Wolf and Mathieson and his complete and undeniable inability to prevent lots of runs when he pitches.  He gave up a homer to the first man he faced, Aaron Miles, bring the Cards within one at 8-7.  Madson then got out of the frame with a fly ball, a walk and a double-play.

The Phils got five in the top of the eighth to go up 13-7 and brought in Rick White to pitch the bottom of the frame.  White gave up back-to-back doubles to start the innings and cut the Phillies lead to 13-8.  He then got out of the inning on a ground out, a walk and a double-play.  White has been charged with four runs in his last two innings, but only one of the runs has been earned.  They came on four hits and two walks, so it's not like he's pitching the cover off the ball these days. 

Aaron Fultz pitched the ninth with a 16-8 lead and walked the first two men he faced.  He got out of the inning without any damage by getting a fly out and yet another double-play.  The double-play ended the inning for the third straight frame and was the fourth the Phillies turned on the day.  I still have no idea what Aaron Fultz's role might be, but it's sure not lefty specialist out of the pen, which is a pity since righties have hit .315 against him and lefties .215.

The Phillies lineup against the righty Jeff Weaver went (1) Rollins (2) Dellucci (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Rowand (7) Lieberthal (8) Nunez.  Eighth is a nice spot for Nunez, nice idea.  With the Phillies winning the first two of three in the series Manuel will likely go to his bench in tonight's final game.  Given the current state of the roster it could make for some interesting viewing.  I don't think the Phanatic made the trip to St Louis, but you never know.  Wouldn't be surprised to see Victorino or Roberson or both against the righty Marquis.  One of these days we'll get to see if Coste really is the Phillies backup first baseman -- I think he is but they may wait for a lefty to give Howard a break.

Jimmy Rollins led off the first with a home run, putting the Phils up 1-0.

A Lieberthal single and a Nunez doubled led off the second.  Myers grounded out without anyone advancing, making it second and third with one out for Rollins, who was hit by a pitch to load the bases.  Dellucci followed with a two-run single that put the Phils up 3-0 with runners on first and second and one out.  An Utley ground out was the second out of the inning, moving the runners to second and third. A single by Howard scored two more to put the Phillies up 5-0 before Burrell grounded out to end the inning.

In the third the Phillies got a one-out single from Lieberthal before Nunez grounded into a double-play to end the inning.

With Rollins on first and one out in the top of the fourth, the Cardinals pitched out on a 2-2 pitch, which is a really poor idea.  I can't think of any reason to do it unless you think you've stolen the signs of the other team and know the guy will be going from first.  Rollins wasn't going, bringing the count full on Dellucci and making it real likely the next pitch was going to be a fastball.  It was. Dellucci hit a two-run homer to put the Phillies up 7-2.

Aaron Rowand hit a solo homer in the fifth to make it 8-2 Phillies.

The Phils went 1-2-3 in the sixth.  They put runners on first and second with one out in the seventh, but Rowand hit into a double-play to end the inning.

The Phillies scored five times in the eighth inning, which they started with an 8-7 lead.  Lieberthal singled and went to second on a Nunez sacrifice bunt.  Coste doubled, scoring Roberson from second, who had run for Lieberthal.  9-7 Phillies.  Rollins singled and made a nice baserunning play going to second on Encarnacion's throw to third.  Victorino hit for Dellucci against the the lefty Flores.  He tripled, blooping one in between a diving Encarnacion and Pujols, driving in two.  11-7.  Utley was up next.  He had an 0-for-4 on the day and it looked like it would be his last at-bat with his 33 game hitting streak on the line.  He dribbled a ground ball to the right of the pitcher.  Flores fielded it, looked Victorino back at third and then fired to first but Utley beat the throw.  The official scorekeeper called it a hit, then changed it to a fielder's choice, then back to a hit.  Utley would add another hit in the ninth inning anyway, but it looked important at the time.   Howard singled, scoring Victorino and sending Utley to third.  12-7.  A Burrell sac fly brought in Utley from third for the fifth Phillies run of the inning and 13-7 lead before Rowand ended the inning with a fly ball to right.

In the top of the ninth, an error by Rolen and Nunez walk set up a three-run home run by Rollins, which made the score 16-8 Phillies.

Rollins was 3-for-5 with two home runs and four RBI.  He scored five runs and is on a pac to hit 21 home runs for the year.  He's 6-for-10 in the series and his numbers are creeping up for the year.  He was hitting .253 after the game on July 17 and ended yesterday's game at .269.  He's capable of getting ridiculously hot -- remember that last season he hit 402/455/648 in 122 September at-bats. 

Dellucci was 3-for-4 with a home run and four RBI.  327/374/613 in 150 at-bats for the year.  Victorino was 1-for-2 with a triple and two RBI.

Utley was 2-for-6 with two singles and a strikeout.  He extended his hitting streak to 34.

Howard was 2-for-3 with a walk and three RBI.

Burrell was 1-for-3 with a walk and a sac fly.

Rowand was 1-for-5 with a home run and left five men on base. 

Lieberthal was 3-for-4 as the Phillies are suddenly getting offense from their catchers.  Lieberthal is 5-for-his-last-9.

The Phillies go for the sweep tonight as Cole Hamels faces Jason Marquis.

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