With their fifth straight win, an 8-7 squeaker over the Cubs last night, the Phils are finally back over .500 for the first time since topping the Pirates on Opening Day.
It sure was ugly, though.
The Phils were in control most of the way, taking a 5-2 lead into top of the eighth where a huge throwing error by Chicago pitcher Blake Parker helped them score three unearned runs and seemingly break the game open. Turned out there was some drama left. Halladay allowed his second home run of the game in the bottom of the eighth, cutting the lead to 8-3. Any hope that Jake Diekman was going to lead the charge that saved the bullpen was at least temporarily dashed in the bottom of the ninth. After a fantastic debut two games earlier, Diekman got two outs in the frame and was charged with four runs. Papelbon had to bail him out, getting the last out of the game on a ground ball to third with the tying run on base.
If the Diekman-as-Savior period was brief, so also was the march upwards from worst bullpen in baseball. After allowing four earned runs in an inning last night, the team’s bullpen ERA is up to 5.36 for the year, which is again the worst in either league.
The Phillies are 20-19 on the year after beating the Chicago Cubs 8-7 last night. The Phils sweep the two-game set and have won five games in a row for the first time this season.
Halladay got the start for the Phillies and went eight innings, allowing three runs on seven hits. Three of the hits went for extra-bases, a double and two home runs. He came into the start having allowed two home runs over his last 20 starts (142 2/3 innings) going back to 2011.
He started the bottom of the first with a 1-0 lead. David DeJesus led off with a double and Tony Campana bunted him to third with the first out. Starlin Castro was next and flew to left, deep enough for DeJesus to tag and score, tying the game at 1-1. Brayn LaHair hit a ball to left, where Pierre made a nice diving catch to end the inning.
Opponents are hitting .290 against Halladay in the first in this year and .227 in all other innings.
The Phillies led 4-1 when Halladay started the second. Ian Stewart singled with one out, but Halladay got Wellington Castillo to ground into a double-play behind him.
DeJesus singled with two down in the third, but was caught trying to steal second with Halladay throwing to Rollins to record the out.
Halladay set the Cubs down in order in the fourth.
Up 5-1, he set them down in order again in the fifth.
Darwin Barney led off the bottom of the sixth with a single. Lefty Adrian Cardenas, former first round pick of the Phillies, hit for the pitcher Casey Coleman and flew to center for the first out. DeJesus struck out for the second and Campana went down trying to bunt for a single for the third.
Castro homered to right-center on a 1-1 pitch to start the seventh, cutting the Phillies lead to 5-2. Halladay got LaHair on a fly ball to left for the first out before Alfonso Soriano singled to right. Stewart hit into a double-play to end the frame.
Halladay started the eighth with an 8-2 lead. Wellington Castillo led off and homered to left-center, making it 8-3. Halladay got the next three.
Halladay had only thrown 82 pitches through seven innings, which surely had a lot to do with the decision to have him pitch the eighth with a six-run lead. That and the fact that the bullpen is really, really hide-your-eyes bad.
Diekman started the ninth with the Phils still up five. He walked Campana on four pitches and Campana took second without a throw. Castro flew to left for the first out. Righty Jeff Baker hit for the lefty LaHair and walked, putting runners on first and second. Righty Joe Mather hit for the pitcher Michael Bowden and lined softly to Galvis for the second out. Diekman hit Stewart to load the bases for Castillo and Castillo cleared them with a double down the third base line and into the left field corner, cutting the lead to 8-6. Papelbon came in to pitch to the righty Barney and Barney singled into center, scoring Castillo to make it 8-7. Reed Johnson grounded to Wigginton at third to end the game.
Diekman faces six batters, walking two (including the leadoff man), hitting one and giving up a double while getting two outs.
Diekman threw 26 pitches in the game and Papelbon six. Nobody in the pen has thrown more than one day in a row.
The Phillies lineup against righty Chris Volstad went (1) Rollins (2) Pierre (3) Victorino (4) Pence (5) Ruiz (6) Wigginton (7) Luna (8) Galvis. Polanco on the bench. Luna at first after the pinch-hit grand slam the night before, accentuating the fact that the Phillies do not have a good option at first against right-handed pitching with Howard, Thome and Nix down.
Rollins led off the game with a single and moved up to second when Pierre grounded out softly for the first out. A Victorino walk put men on first and second, but Pence struck out for the second. Ruiz was next, though, and he singled into center, scoring Rollins to put the Phils up 1-0 with men on first and second. Victorino and Ruiz pulled off a double-steal before Wigginton walked to load the bases. Luna fouled out to the catcher to leave them loaded.
The game was tied at 1-1 when the Phils hit in the second. Galvis grounded out to the pitcher for the first out, but Halladay singled, Rollins walked and Pierre singled behind him, loading the bases with one down for Victorino. Victorino grounded softly to first for the second out. Everyone moved up a base with Halladay scoring to make it 2-1 with men on second and third. Pence singled into center, scoring both runners and the Phils led 4-1. Ruiz followed that with a single that put men on first and second. Wigginton struck out swinging to leave both runners stranded.
Casey Coleman set the Phils down in order in the third and again in the fourth.
Pence doubled off of Coleman to start the fifth and took third on a wild pitch. Ruiz singled in to right, scoring Pence and the Phils led 5-1. Wigginton and Luna both went down before Galvis moved Ruiz up to third with a single. Halladay grounded to the pitcher to leave runners at the corners.
Pierre bunted for a single with one out in the sixth and Victorino walked behind him. Pence flew to left and Ruiz grounded to short to turn the Phils away.
Luna reached on an infield single off of righty Blake Parker with one out in the seventh. Galvis hit into a double-play behind him.
The lead had been cut to 5-2 when the Phils hit in the eighth. Halladay led off with a single and moved to second when Rollins walked behind him. The runners moved up to second and third on a passed ball before Pierre grounded to second for the first out with both runners holding. Victorino struck out looking for the second out. Pence was next and dribbled a ball out in front of the plate, which should have ended the inning, but Parker bobbled then threw the ball away for an error, allowing both runners to score and extend the Phillie lead to 7-2. Righty Michael Bowden came in to pitch to Ruiz and Ruiz doubled to right, scoring Pence to make it 8-2. Wigginton struck out to leave Victorino at second.
The Phils shouldn’t have scored any runs at all in the frame. With runners on second and third with nobody out, Pierre grounds out and Victorino strikes out before Pence reaches on the two-run error and Ruiz follows with a double.
It was 8-3 when the Phils hit in the ninth. Bowden got Luna and Galvis for the first two outs before Fontenot hit for Halladay and singled to left. Rollins popped to first to leave him stranded.
Fontenot now 2-for-3 as a pinch-hitter on the year. The only Phillie with more pinch-hits on the season is Mayberry. Mayberry is 3-for-14 (.214) with a double and seven strikeouts as a pinch-hitter.
Rollins was 1-for-4 in the game, but walked twice and scored three runs. 2-for-8 with three walks in the series. 232/290/290 on the year.
Pierre was 2-for-5 in the game and 4-for-8 with a double in the series. 343/388/380 on the season. He is 14th in on-base percentage among the 105 NL players with 100 or more play appearances.
Victorino 0-for-3 with an RBI and two walks. 1-for-8 with two walks in the series. 244/301/394 for the year.
Pence 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI. Reached on a key dribbler in the eighth. 2-for-9 with a walk and a double in the series. 253/301/487 on the season.
Wigginton 0-for-4 with a walk and three strikeouts. Mercifully got an out on the last batter of the game for Papelbon. 1-for-5 with two walks in the set. 3-for-his-last-30 with three singles and 13 strikeouts. 258/348/351. Huge opportunity for him to play regularly with Howard, Thome and Nix out and Mayberry awful, but he is not hitting.
Luna 1-for-5 with four men left on base. 2-for-6 with the Phillies for the year.
Galvis was 1-for-5 in the game and 3-for-9 with two doubles in the set. 230/270/367 for the year.
Hamels (5-1, 2.28) faces righty Daniel Bard (3-4, 4.30) tonight as the Phils play the Red Sox in Philadelphia. Hamels hasn’t allowed more than two runs in any of his last five starts and the Phillies have won all five of those games. He’s allowed just one home run in 35 innings in those outings.