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Myers’ Gem, Clutch Hitting, 2-1 Over Cubs = Phils 1 1/2 Off Wild Card Pace

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Phils starter Brett Myers (8-6) cranked up easily his best outing of the year, an 8 inning 1 run, 4 hit, 9 strikeout, 1 walk performance and 1st baseman  Ryan Howard (44 HRs, 113 RBIs, .292 BA) and shortstop Jimmy Rollins (19 HRs, 59 RBIs, .279 BA) provided just enough clutch offense as the Phils won their 5th straight game, a tight 2-1 victory on Wednesday over the Chicago Cubs. 

With the victory, the Phils now hold a 64-62 record and are but 1 1/2 games behind the Cincinnati Reds in the race for the Wild Card lead.

Myers and Cubs rookie starter Angel Guzman (0-3) were locked in a 0-0 pitching duel for 5 innings with Guzman’s impressive performance nearly matching Myers’ performance in excellence.

Howard led off the 6th inning with his solo homer off of Guzman, his 44th homer of the season.  Guzman, who was not involved in the decision, then retired the side and was replaced in the 7th inning by reliever David Aardsma (1-0). Aardsma set the Phils down in the 7th inning and retired 1 batter in the 8th before being replaced by lefthander Will Ohman (1-1) who was sent in to pitch to 2nd baseman Chase Utley (22 HRs, 78 RBIs, .318 BA).  Utley was hit by a pitch, but no damage resulted as Ohman then retired the next to hitters to set down the side.

In the Cubs 8th inning, leftfielder Matt Murton (9 HRs, 47 RBIs, .295 BA) knotted the score at 1-1 with a solo blast, his 9th homer of the season.

In the Phillies 9th, with 2 on and 2 out, Rollins slapped his game-winning double to right center field scoring 3rd baseman Abraham Nunez (2 HRs, 19 RBIs), who had walked earlier, with the winning run off of Cubs reliever Bob Howry (3-4, 3.19 ERA, S4) who closed out the game and was tagged with the loss.

Myers was relieved in the 9th inning by Arthur Rhodes (0-3)  and Geoff Geary (6-0, 3.33 ERA, S1) who had a one-two-three inning between them with Geary registering his first save of the season.

For a full recap including box score and play-by-play on Wednesday’s game click here.

On Thursday, Phils rookie lefthander Cole Hamels (6-6) faces Cubs ace Carlos Zambrano (13-5) in an afternoon game.  Watch out, the wind could be blowing out at Wrigley Field.

A little background on the wind variance at Wrigley Field;

At no other current major league ballpark does the weather affect game play as much as at Wrigley Field. In April and May the wind often comes off Lake Michigan (less than a mile to the east), which means a northeast wind “blowing in” to knock down potential home runs and turn them into outs. In the summer, however, or on any warm and breezy day, the wind often comes from the south and the southwest, which means the wind is “blowing out” and has the potential to turn normally harmless fly balls into home runs. A third variety is the cross-wind, which typically runs from the left field corner to the right field corner and causes all sorts of interesting havoc. Depending on the direction of the wind, Wrigley can either be one of the friendliest parks in the major leagues for pitchers or among the worst.

Many Cubs fans check their nearest flag before heading to the park on game days for an indication of what the game might be like; this is less of a factor for night games, however, because the wind does not blow as hard after the sun goes down.

With the wind blowing in, pitchers can dominate…. With the wind blowing out, some true tape-measure home runs have been hit by well-muscled batters.

Need I recall, there have been many wild and wooly slugfests at Wrigley, such as this one and this one.

For full coverage of Thursday’s games in both leagues; previews, recaps, box scores and play-by-play coverage click here.

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