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September 24 2006

The Marlins came into Philly with a plan that was practical and well thought out:  Don't let Ryan Howard beat you.  It didn't work in the first game of the critical series.  With nowhere to put the slugger, the Marlins came after Howard and Ryan put the Phillies on top to stay with a three-run blast.  After that, though, not much.  Howard went 3-for-7 with two walks and no RBI in the last two games.  All in all, an early disaster, but a good plan and it they executed it well. The news is not all good for the Marlins, however.  In fact, just the opposite.  It turns out that the Phillies have some other guys on their team, and just when you think you've figured out how to keep Howard from hurting you, someone else does.

Utley and Rollins combined to 17-for-30 in the series.  Utley is so hot you would have to think about pitching around him if virtually anyone else on the planet were hitting behind him.  Given that virtually anyone else isn't, I don't know what I'd do.  Lose, maybe?  Lieber picked up the pieces after a disastrous start his last time out and gave the Phillies the innings they needed.  Cole Hamels needs to be sent up to the next level before somebody gets hurt.  Coste and Ruiz went 7-for-14 and drove in six runs.  The three-run home run from Coste this afternoon may have been the single biggest swing of the series.

The third inning of today's game was a microcosm for so much of what has gone right for the Phillies offense lately.  Down 4-0, the Phils hit and hit and when it was over they were up 7-4.  It's not a secret that Jimmy Rollins is the sparkplug of the Phillies offense, and he got the scoring started with a two-run home run.  Two batters later, Utley added a two-run shot of his own.  Everybody hit.  Of the three outs the Phils made in the frame, two came off the bat of Moyer and the other was a strikeout by Ryan Howard. 

The Phillies beat the Florida Marlins this afternoon, winning 10-7 to improve to 82-73 on the year.  The Phils have won five in a row, eight of their last nine and 10-of-their-last-12.  The Dodgers and Padres both won today -- the Dodgers won on a walkoff grand slam from Nomar Garciaparra with two outs in the ninth.  The Phillies remain 1/2 game ahead of Los Angeles for the Wild Card.

Jamie Moyer got the start for the Phillies.  He went six innings, allowing five runs on eight hits and two walks.  Six of the eight hits went for extra-bases, two doubles, a triple and three home runs. 

The Marlins were all over Moyer in the first.  Hanley Ramirez led of the game with a home run, putting the Fish on top 1-0.  Moyer got Dan Uggla on strikes and Miguel Cabrera on a ground ball to third, but Josh Willingham tripled on a ball that eluded Victorino in center.  Wes Helms was next and he doubled to right, scoring Willingham.  2-0 Marlins.  Cody Ross followed that with a two-run home run that extended the Florida lead to 4-0.  Miguel Olivo was next and he doubled.  Moyer intentionally walked Joe Borchard to get to the pitcher, and Scott Olsen grounded out to first to end the inning.

Moyer allowed a two-out single to Cabrera in the second, but got Willingham on a ground ball back to the pitcher to end the inning.

Ross led off the third with a walk, but Helms followed and flew to left and Olivio grounded into an inning-ending double-play.

Florida relief pitcher Jose Garcia reached on an infield single with one out in the fourth and Moyer protecting a 7-4 lead.  Hanley Ramirez was next and hit a ground ball to third.  The Phils got out of the inning on a nifty double-play started by Nunez.

Moyer threw a 1-2-3 fifth.  Helms led off the sixth with a home run that cut the Phillies lead to 8-5.  Moyer followed up the blast from Helms with three ground outs to end the inning, including another tremendous play at third by Nunez to end the inning.

Ryan Madson came in to pitch the seventh with the Phillies now ahead 9-5.  He struck out Amezaga to start the inning, but Ramierz followed with a double to left.  Madson got Uggla to pop out and Cabrera to ground to third to end the inning.  For Madson it was his first appearance in his last three games where he was not charged.  He has thrown to a 9.53 ERA in 12 games in September. 

As part of the continuing effort to pitch Geoff Geary as often as possible, regardless of the score, Geary entered in the eighth with the Phillies up 10-5.  Geary gave up a leadoff single to Willingham, but struck out Helms for the first out and got Ross to ground into a double-play to end the inning.  It's all great until Geary's arm fall off, then we're gonna need a Plan B.  How bout someone else with a five-run lead?

Rick White came in to pitch the ninth with the Phils up 10-5.  He got the leadoff man before Joe Borchard singled and Mike Jacobs homered to cut the lead to 10-7.  The Phillies had used Gordon in two straight games, yesterday in absurd circumstances, but had to warm him up anyway.  He wouldn't be needed.  White struck out Ramirez and Uggla to end the game.

The Phillies lineup against lefty Scott Olsen went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Conine (6) Burrell (7) Coste (8) Nunez.  Coste catches Moyer.  Burrell hits sixth again with Conine hitting fifth against the lefty, which is awful for all the same reasons it was the last time Manuel did it and all the same reasons it will be awful the next time he does it.  I just lack the energy.  Burrell's great against lefties, Conine has been hot of late.  I'd go with the guy who is great against lefties.

Rollins led off the first with a single but the next three Phils went in order to end the inning with the Phillies down 4-0. 

The Phils went 1-2-3 in the second. 

The third inning was magical.  With the Phillies still down 4-0, Nunez led off with a single and Moyer bunted him to second.  Rollins homered.  4-2.  Victorino reached on an error by Ramirez at short and Utley followed with a home run.  4-4.  Howard struck out for the second out of the inning.  Conine and Burrell both singled with two outs, bringing up Chris Coste.  Coste got behind 1-2 before finally working the count full.  On the ninth pitch of the at-bat he hit the ball out for a three-run homer that put the Phillies up 7-4.  Nunez was next and Olsen hit him with a pitch.  Olsen was quickly ejected by home plate umpire Mark Wegner.  21-year-old righty Jose Garcia game into the game and got Moyer to fly to left to end the inning.

Rollins led off the fourth with a single and went to second on a ground out by Victorino.  Utley followed with a single to right, which scored Rollins to put the Phillies up 8-4.  Howard grounded out and Conine flew to center to end the inning.

Coste singled with one out in the fifth, but Nunez and Moyer went down behind him. 

With two outs in the sixth, Utley hit a solo home run to put the Phillies up 9-5.  Howard followed with a double off the very top of the wall in left, but Conine flew to center to end the frame.

Burrell led off the seventh and his at-bat was interrupted by a rain delay of about an hour and a half.  When play resumed he hit a solo home run, that put the Phils up 10-5.  Coste followed with a single, but Nunez, pinch-hitter Randall Simon, and Rollins all went down to end the inning.

Utley walked with one out in the eighth.  Howard followed with a single that sent Utley to second.  Conine flew to center for the second out and Michael Bourn, who entered the game as a defensive replacement for Burrell in the top of the inning, got a rare at-bat and drew a walk.  With the bases loaded and two down Coste popped out to end the inning.

Rollins was 3-for-5 with a home run and two-RBI.  7-for-15 with two home runs in the three game set.

Victorino was 0-for-5.

Utley was 3-for-4 with two home runs and four RBI.  10-for-13 with two walks in the series.

Conine was 1-for-5 with four men left on base.

There was a nearly unprecedented love-in for Pat Burrell this afternoon as the Phillies fans did everything they could to try to help him out of his funk in a year he's heard mostly boos.  Most of the fans were gone before he hit one out after the rain-delay in the seventh.  He was 2-for-4 with a home run. 

Coste was 3-for-5 with a home run and three RBI. 

Nunez was 1-for-3.  1-for-8 with three walks in the series.

The Phillies won yesterday's game 8-4.

Jon Lieber got the start for the Phillies and bounced back very nicely after a terrible start against the Cubs on Monday.  He got the win, going seven innings, allowing two runs on seven hits.  Three of the hits went for extra-bases, all doubles.  He struck out six and didn't walk a batter. 

Lieber hit Cabrera with two outs in the first, but struck out Willingham to end the inning.

After a 1-2-3 second, Olivo led off the third with a single.  Moehler popped up a bunt attempt for the first out, but Ramirez followed with a single that sent Olivo to second.  Lieber got Uggla to ground to second and Cabrera to ground to first to end the inning.

Lieber started the fourth up 4-0.  Mike Jacobs doubled with one out and went to third when Borchard followed with a single.  Amezaga followed with a ground ball back to Lieber that allowed Jacobs to score while the Phils got Amezaga at first for the second out of the inning.  Lieber struck out Olivo to end the inning with the Phillies up 4-1.

Hanley Ramirez doubled with one out in the fifth, but Lieber got Uggla to ground out to third and Cabrera on a line drive to second to end the inning.

Jacobs doubled with one out in the sixth and went to third when Borchard followed with ground out to second.  Amezaga followed with a single that scored Jacobs to cut the Phillies lead to 4-2.  Lieber struck out Olivo to end the inning.

Lieber threw a 1-2-3 seventh.

Ryan Madson came in to pitch the eighth with the Phillies up 6-2.  He got the first two men he faced before walking Jacobs.  Cabrera followed with a two-run homer that made the score 6-4.  Madson got Wes Helms to pop to shortstop to end the inning.

Amazingly, the Phillies brought in the aged Tom Gordon to pitch the ninth with an 8-4 lead.  Gordon was appearing in a game for the second straight day, this time in a non-save situation.  The Phillies did start the bottom of the eighth in a save situation, up 6-4, and the inning-ended quickly on a double-play from Nunez, but they still should have gotten someone else ready after Conine's double.  Gordon gave up a leadoff homer to Olivo, which made the score 8-5.  Gordon got Ross to ground out for the first out of the inning, but Ramirez followed with the second Marlins homer of the inning, making the score 8-6.  On a 3-2 pitch, with Brian Sanches warming in the pen, Gordon struck out Uggla on a check swing for the second out of the inning.  Cabrera flew out to right to end the inning.  Badly done by the Phillies, but they got out with a win.  The Phillies blunder made it unlikely Gordon would be available to pitch on Sunday.

The Phillies lineup against righty Brian Moehler went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Dellucci (6) Burrell (7) Ruiz (8) Nunez.  Ruiz starts his first game since September 13, catching Lieber who almost never throws to Lieberthal.  Three lefties in a row for the Phillies again. 

The Phillies came out strong in the first inning, with Rollins, Victorino and Utley all singling.  Rollins came in to score on Utley's single, putting the Phils up 1-0.  Ryan Howard was grazed by an inside pitch to load the bases with nobody out.  Dellucci popped to third and Burrell flew out to shallow center, with the runners unable to advance, to make it two down with the bases still loaded.  Carlos Ruiz knocked in two runs with a check-swing single to right, putting the Phillies up 3-0 before Nunez grounded out to end the inning.

After a 1-2-3 second, Utley and Howard led off the third with singles, putting runners on first and second with nobody out for Dellucci.  Dellucci flew out to left and Burrell lined to Ramirez at short.  Again Ruiz picked them up, doubling to score Utley and send Howard to third with the Phils up 4-0.  The Marlins walked Nunez intentionally and Lieber struck out to end the inning.

Victorino singled with one out in the fourth.  Utley flew to center for the second out before the Marlins intentionally walked Howard.  With runners on first and second and two down, Dellucci hit a line drive that hit Howard running to second, ending the inning.

In the fifth, the Phils got a two-out walk from Nunez but Lieber struck out to end the inning.

Rollins led off the sixth with a home run, his 23rd on the year, which put the Phillies up 5-2.  Victorino singled and Utley sent him to third with another single before Howard struck out for the first out of the inning.  With lefty Renyel Pinto on the mound, Conine pinch-hit for Dellucci.  Pinto left and righty Randy Messenger came in for Florida.  Conine singled off of Messenger, scoring Victorino and sending Utley to second with the Phils up 6-2.  Burrell grounded into a double-play to end the inning.

Ruiz led off the seventh and reached on an error by Ramirez.  Nunez bunted him to second, but pinch-hitter Randall Simon grounded back to the pitcher and Rollins struck out to end the inning.

Victorino and Utley both singled to lead off the eighth.  With Howard at the plate, a passed ball moved them to second and third and the Marlins decided to again intentionally walk Howard, loading the bases with nobody out for Conine.  Conine hit a fly ball to right that Borchard misplayed into a double.  Two runs scored for the Phillies, putting them up 8-4 with nobody out and runners on second and third.  They wouldn't get any more.  Coste pinch-hit for Bourn and flew to center with the runners unable to advance.  The Marlins walked Ruiz to set up the double-play and Nunez hit into it. 

Rollins was 2-for-5 with a home run. 

Victorino 4-for-5 with four singles.

Utley 4-for-5 with four singles. 

Howard was 1-for-2 with two walks, both intentional. 

Dellucci was 1-for-3.  Conine 2-for-2 with three RBI.

Burrell was 0-for-4 and left seven men on base. 

Ruiz was 2-for-4 with a double and three RBI.

Nunez 0-for-2 with two walks.

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