The Phillies scored six runs in the top of the ninth inning last night, blowing a close game open on their way to a 9-2 win over the Cubs.
Kyle Kendrick made a strong start in the game, holding the Cubs to two runs on three hits over six innings. Only one of the runs was earned, thanks to an error on a dropped fly ball by Pierre in front of an Alfonso Soriano home run.
The bullpen, still miserable, didn’t blink in a close game. Jose Contreras, who came into the game with a 9.00 ERA for the season, threw a scoreless seventh with the game tied at 2-2. Bastardo, who has allowed one hit in nine appearances so far in May, struck out two in a 1-2-3 eighth with the Phils up a run. Raul Valdes made his debut with the Phillies in the ninth, striking out two more in another perfect frame after a two-run single by Wigginton and a grand slam from Hector Luna had broken the game open in the top of the inning.
By ERA, the Phillies bullpen is no longer the worst in all of baseball. At 5.02 they have passed the Tigers and the Mets.
The Phillies are 19-19 on the year after beating the Chicago Cubs 9-2 last night. They have won five of their last six games and four in a row for the first time this season.
Kendrick got the start for the Phillies and went six innings, allowing two runs on three hits. Only one of the runs was earned. He struck out four and didn’t walk a batter, dropping his ERA to 5.94 with the outing.
Over his last three starts, Kendrick has thrown to a 2.12 ERA with a 1.06 ratio.
David DeJesus doubled to right to start the bottom of the first. Tony Campana bunted him to third with the first out. Kendrick struck Starlin Castro out swinging 0-2 for the second out and got lefty Bryan LaHair on a fly ball to left to end the inning.
Big strikeout of Castro for the second out with a runner on third helps Kendrick keep Chicago off the board.
Up 1-0, Kendrick set the Cubs down in order in the second.
Darwin Barney led off the third with a single and pitcher Matt Garza bunted him to second with the first out. DeJesus flew to left for the second out with Barney moving up to third. Kendrick struck Campana out to leave Barney stranded.
With one out in the fourth, LaHair hit a fly ball to left that Pierre dropped for an error that left LaHair on second. Alfonso Soriano was next and hit a 2-2 pitch out to left, putting the Cubs on top 2-1. Kendrick got Ian Stewart and Geovany Soto on a pair of ground balls to end the inning.
Would have been a nifty time to catch the really routine fly ball to left in front of Soriano’s homer.
With the score tied at 2-2, Kendrick set the Cubs down in order in the fifth.
He struck out Campana in a 1-2-3 sixth. Mayberry made a nice diving play at first to rob LaHair of a hit, flipping to Kendrick covering first to end the inning.
Contreras started the seventh with the game still tied and got Soriano, Stewart and Soto in order.
Seems nutty to me to put Contreras into a tie game, but it worked out well for the Phils. Contreras is not charged with a run in his appearance for the first time in three outings, dropping his ERA on the season to 8.00.
Bastardo started the eighth with a 3-2 lead. He struck Barney out swinging for the first out. Righty Jeff Baker hit for the pitcher Shawn Camp and Bastardo got him swinging for the second out. DeJesus grounded to short for the third out.
I like Bastardo pitching the eighth in a tight game a whole lot better than Contreras pitching the seventh. Bastardo hasn’t allowed a run in nine appearances in May, giving up just one hit and three walks in 8 2/3 scoreless innings while striking out nine. He has pitched three of the last four days, but got Tuesday off.
Raul Valdes pitched the ninth with a 9-2 lead, making his Phillies debut. He set the Cubs down in order, striking out pinch-hitter Joe Mather and LaHair.
Three shutdown innings from the pen in which they do not allow a hit or a walk while striking out five.
Bastardo threw 21 pitches in the game, Valdes 20 and Contreras 13. None of that group has pitched more than one day in a row, but Bastardo has thrown three of the last four days.
The Phillies lineup against righty Matt Garza went (1) Rollins (2) Pierre (3) Victorino (4) Pence (5) Ruiz (6) Polanco (7) Mayberry (8) Galvis.
With one out in the top of the first, Pierre bunted down the first base line. Garza fielded, but made an awful throw to first for an error. Pierre stole second and Victorino bunted him to third with the second out. Pence grounded to third to leave Pierre stranded.
Really, really not a fan of bunting with your three-hitter in the top of the first inning even if it works.
Pierre was almost surely out at first on his bunt attempt, but got the call.
Ruiz started the second with a single into center. Polanco flew to center for the first out before Mayberry moved Ruiz up to second with a dribbler out in front of the plate for the second. Galvis was next and ripped a double down the first base line, scoring Ruiz to put the Phils up 1-0. Kendrick struck out looking to leave Galvis at second.
Rollins and Pierre singled back-to-back to start the third, putting runners on first and second for Victorino. Victorino popped to second for the first out before Pence walked to load the bases. Ruiz grounded into a double-play to end the frame.
Can’t believe they didn’t bunt with Victorino. Just kidding. No run for the Phils after putting runners on first and second with nobody out.
Pierre’s single was another bunt. Again Garza made an absurd throw to first. This time it was called a single instead of an error.
The Phils went in order in the fourth.
They started the fifth down 2-1. Kendrick led off with a single and moved to third on a one-out double by Pierre. Victorino was next and reached on an infield single on another close play at first. Kendrick scored to tie the game at 2-2 and Pierre moved up to third. Pence hit into a double-play to end the inning.
Garza walked off the mound remarking to the umpires that it was the second time they had missed the call at first. The first was on Pierre’s bunt in the first and this time Victorino looked out at first.
The Phils went in order in the sixth.
Galvis fouled out trying to bunt for a hit to start the seventh. With Garza still on the mound for Chicago, Fontenot hit for Kendrick and singled softly to right. Rollins lined to left for the second out. Lefty James Russell came in to pitch to Pierre. Wigginton hit for Pierre and walked, putting runners on first and second. Victorino struck out to leave them both there.
Glad to see Wigginton hit for Pierre against the lefty. Fontenot has one pinch-hit on the season. There are only two players on the team with more than one pinch-hit on the season. Mayberry has three and Pierre has two. 185/267/259 for the pinch-hitters this year for the Phils. They have struck out 24 times in 61 plate appearances.
Righty Shawn Camp got Pence on a fly ball to left for the first out in the eighth before Ruiz hit a 1-1 pitch out to left for his seventh homer of the year, putting the Phils up 3-2. Orr hit for Contreras and struck out for the second out. Mayberry struck out for the third.
Galvis doubled to left off of lefty Scott Maine to start the ninth. Fontenot was hit by a pitch behind him and Rollins walked, loading the bases with nobody out. Righty Michael Bowden came on to pitch to Wigginton and Wigginton singled into right. Galvis and Fontenot scored, putting the Phils up 5-2 with nobody out and runners on first and second. Victorino popped to short for the first out before Rollins and Wigginton pulled off a double-steal. Pence popped to second for the second out. With first base open, the righty Bowden walked the righty Ruiz, loading the bases for Bastardo’s slot. Luna hit for Bastardo and hit an 0-1 pitch out to left for a grand slam, putting the Phils on top 9-2. Mayberry struck out looking to end the frame.
Big swings for Luna and for Wigginton. Galvis is tied for fourth in the NL in doubles.
Rollins was 1-for-4 with a walk in the game. The Phillies are tenth in the NL in on-base percentage in the #1 spot in the order at .303. Rollins has on-based .310 in 85 PA as the #1 hitter, Pierre .333 in 60 PA and Victorino .259 in 27 PA.
Pierre was 2-for-3 with a double. Twice he bunted and got on base, one of the attempts was called an error. He dropped a fly ball in left field that cost the Phils one of the two runs they allowed in the game.
Victorino was 1-for-5 with an RBI on his infield single on a very close play at first (and by that I mean he was out). He left seven men on base. He’s 2-for-his-last-14. 235/278/390 over his last 144 plate appearances. For the year, Phillies hitting out of the #3 spot in the order have put up a .601 OPS, which is 15th-best of the 16 NL teams. Victorino has been bad (254/293/394 in 75 PA) and Rollins worse (216/253/243 in 80 PA).
Pence 0-for-4 with a walk and left five men on base. The Phillies score nine runs in the game and their three and four hitters combine to go 1-for-9 with an infield single and 12 men left on base.
Ruiz 2-for-4 with a walk and a home run. He’s on pace to hit 30 home runs, which would be more than his career high of nine. He’s 8-for-his-last-17 with two walks and two homers. He’s tied for eleventh in the NL in RBI with 24.
Polanco 0-for-3. He came into the game hitting .362 over his last 74 plate appearances.
Mayberry was 0-for-5 and struck out three times. He’s 3-for-his-last-16. The Phillies need to try someone else at first base against right-handed pitching and I’m guessing they will — Mayberry is hitting 207/246/241 for the year against right-handed pitching. Ty Wigginton obviously isn’t the ideal guy at first against righties, but he may be a better choice than Mayberry in the short term with Thome, Nix and Howard out. Wigginton was 1-for-1 with a walk and two RBI last night. He’s 3-for-his-last-26 overall and hitting 262/324/311 against righties for the year.
Galvis 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI. He’s 5-for-his-last-11 with a walk and two doubles. Hitting 298/340/489 in 50 plate appearances so far in May.
Halladay (3-3, 3.20) faces righty Chris Volstad (0-5, 6.92) tonight. Halladay has had two starts of his seven on the season in which he has allowed more than two runs. One of them, May 2 against the Braves, blew up his numbers for the season badly as he allowed eight runs over 5 1/3 innings and was unable to hold a 6-0 lead. Since that start he’s had two outings in which he has allowed four runs over 14 innings (2.57 ERA, 1.00 ratio while striking out 17). Volstad has allowed four or more runs in five straight starts, one of which came against the Phillies. On April 30, he allowed four runs over six innings against the Phils. The Phillies rallied late to win that game 6-4. The righty Volstad has been better against lefties than righties so far this season. Righties have hit 307/354/466 against him and lefties 261/311/391.