The Phillies staked Pedro Martinez to a 6-0 lead on Sunday against his former teammates as rightfielder Jayson Werth and catcher Carlos Ruiz belted first inning 3 run homers off of Mets’ lefthander Oliver Perez who lasted only 2/3rds of an inning. But then the Phils nearly blew 6-0, 8-2 and 9-5 leads. With the score at 9-7 in the ninth inning, runners at 1st and 2nd base, none out and closer Brad Lidge holding a 2-2 count on rightfielder Jeff Francoeur, the recent Mets acquisition from the Atlanta Braves lined Lidge’s next pitch… to 2nd baseman Eric Bruntlett as the Phillies beat the Mets by a 9-7 score on Bruntlett’s ninth inning game-saving unassisted triple-play.
With the win, the Phils took a 2 games to 1 lead in their 4 game series with the Mets and widened their NL East division lead to 7 games as Atlanta and Florida are now tied for 2nd place while the Mets fell further back to 15 1/2 games out in 4th place.
The ESPN AP game recap gives MLB record background regarding the dramatic triple-play:
It was the 15th unassisted triple play in major league history — and the third that ended a game. The first two came more than 80 years ago, by Pittsburgh shortstop Glenn Wright in 1925 and Detroit first baseman Johnny Neun in 1927.
AP Sports Writer Howie Rumberg adds a further note regarding unassisted triple-plays:
Of the 15 unassisted triple plays in big league history, all but one came during the regular season. Cleveland second baseman Bill Wambsganss turned the rare trick in the 1920 World Series against Brooklyn.
With Chase Utley getting a regular day off, Bruntlett got the start at second base. Not much is expected from Bruntlett, who entered today with a .128 average. He started off by going 3-for-3 and made some solid defensive plays.
Bruntlett’s rare feat on a liner by Jeff Francoeur preserved a game that turned precarious as the Mets kept coming and coming after getting down by a 6-0 deficit in the first inning squashed a potential Mets rally against closer Brad Lidge.
The beginning of the game had all of the earmarks of a rout in the making as the Phils tore into hapless Oliver Perez who lasted for 2 outs in the first inning giving up 6 runs, on 3 run homers by Werth and Ruiz, on 4 hits and 2 walks. The Phils sent 9 players to the plate in the inning with Martinez getting a plate appearance before even throwing a pitch.
But then, centerfielder Angel Pagan led off for the Mets hitting an inside-the-park homer to left centerfield. Then a single and a 1 out triple off of Martinez and the Mets cut the deficit to 6-2.
The Phils scored 2 third inning runs as they loaded the bases off of Mets reliever Nelson Figueroa. Martinez helped his own cause with a 1 out RBI single. Shortstop Jimmy Rollins followed, with the sacks still jammed, with a sacrifice fly as the Phils lead mounted to 8-2.
Not to be denied, the Mets order came around again to Pagan who belted a leadoff legitimate solo homer which left the park. A single, a double and a groundout followed and the Mets had 2 more runs cutting the Phils lead to 8-4.
The score remained 8-4 as Martinez settled down and retired 9 of the final 10 Mets hitters that he faced. Martinez, the games’ winning pitcher who garnered his 2nd victory as a Phil, threw 90 pitches in six innings of work giving up 4 runs on 6 hits while walking 2 and striking out none.
The Mets scored single runs in the seventh, off of reliever Chad Durbin, and in the eighth, off of Ryan Madson after the Phils scored a run off of reliever Sean Green who walked pinch hitter Matt Stairs to open the Phillies’ eighth. Stairs took 2nd base on a wild pitch and went to 3rd base on a groundout. He scored on Green’s 2nd wild pitch of the inning.
Wih the Phils leading by 9-6 going into the bottom of the ninth, closer Brad Lidge came on to try to nail it down.
AP’s Howie Rumberg describes the inning and the triple-play:
…The first two batters reached on errors.
Angel Pagan, who homered twice—including an inside-the-park shot leading off the first inning—sped all the way to third when his sharp grounder got through first baseman Ryan Howard. Pagan then scored as Castillo reached on a grounder that Bruntlett bobbled for an error.
[Daniel] Murphy followed with an infield single up the middle that went off the glove of a sliding Bruntlett, bringing up Francoeur.
With runners on first and second, Jeff Francoeur hit a line drive up the middle that appeared headed toward center field for a single. But both runners were stealing on the pitch, so Bruntlett was in perfect position as he moved over to cover second base.
He caught the liner easily, stepped on second to double up Luis Castillo and then turned to tag Murphy for the third out. Murphy tried to backpedal away from Bruntlett, but had nowhere to go.
For the scores of all of Sunday’s games, click here.
The Phillies look to win the series as newly acquired ace lefthander Cliff Lee takes the mound in the final game of the 4 game set with the Mets. Opposing him will be reliever Bobby Parnell who has been pressed into a starting role due to the depleted Mets rotation.
For all of Monday’s games, click here.