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Phillies Beat Pirates in 10 Innings on Howard’s Homer

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Cole Hamels††††Chase Utley†††Ryan Howard†† Ryan Madson

Lefthander Cole Hamels pitched eight gritty shutout innings in dueling with fellow lefty, Pittsburgh’s Pat Maholm, on Wednesday and got a big fat no-decision for his trouble.† With the Phillies holding a 1-0 lead on 2nd baseman Chase Utley’s first inning solo homer, reliever Ryan Madson came on in the ninth and gave up a 1 out, game-tying homer to pinch hitter Brandon Moss.† 1st baseman Ryan Howard broke up the tie in the tenth with a 1st pitch 3 run bomb to rightfield as the Phillies beat the Pirates in 10 innings by a 4-1 score on Howard’s homer.

With the win, the Phillies stayed 7 games up on 2nd place Florida in the NL East divsion race.† Atlanta dropped to 3rd place after being routed by San Diego.† Florida nipped the 4th place Mets who dropped to 17 1/2 games back in the division.

I find it interesting how the AP game recap for Yahoo sports relegated Hamels’ performance to the 8th paragraph, roughly half way through the recap, not even close to doing justice to how worked out of jams in the second, fourth and seventh innings, went clean on the Pirates in two innings and allowed singe base-runners in three other innings.† He gave up 7 hits while walking 2 and striking out 7 while clinging to the early 1-0 Phillies lead resulting from Utley’s first inning solo shot to centerfield.

All of that went for naught as the Phillies provided him with zero offensive support.† And hey, your reliever is entitled to one mistake with the bases empty which Ryan Madson accomodated by coughing up pinch hitter Moss’s 1 out homer in the ninth.† Madson ended up the game-winner (5-4) thanks to Howard’s 3 run shot in the 10th.

A game like this really brings back memories; Elroy Face who, in 1958 and 1959, made a living out of blowing ballgames only to have the Pirates come back to win on his book.† He was 0-2 in 1958 before knotching 22 relief wins without a loss through the ‘58 and ‘59 seasons before finally being on the hook for a loss late in ‘59.†† In ‘58 he went 5-2 and in ‘59, 18-1.† Meanwhile, he saved 30 other games during the 2 seasons, 125 games between 1958 and 1963, 193 games over his 16 season career.

Phillies Nation’s Amanda Orr provides a recap of the Phils’ extra-inning win:

Cole Hamels finally put together a solid outing.† He pitched eight shutout innings, but did allow many base runners.† He allowed seven hits, walked two, and hit a batter.† He managed to escaped the jams without problems.† Paul Maholm pitched just as well.† In seven innings, he gave up one run on five hits.† He walked two, struck out four, and was able to get the Phillies to ground out eleven times.

With a 1-0 lead in the top of the ninth, the Phillies would have liked to add on.† With runners on second and third and nobody out, the Pirates wiggled out of a potential big inning.† Joel Hanrahan struck out Ben Francisco and Pedro Feliz.† He intentionally walked pinch hitter Raul Ibanez to get to a slumping Matt Stairs.† Stairs was ahead 3-0, but Hanrahan fought back, getting Stairs to ground out.

Brad Lidge received the day off since he pitched in four straight games.† Ryan Madson took over, and struck out† Steve Pearce to start the inning, topping at 99 mph.† A sign of relief?† Not so much.† The next batter, Brandon Moss, homered to center field, tying the game at one.† For the second day in a row, the Phillies blew a save to the Pirates.

Unlike Lidge, Madson was able to keep the game tied and give the bats, which were silent all night, a chance in the tenth.

Jimmy Rollins walked and Shane Victorino singled.† With Rollins at third, Utley hit a fly ball to center, deep enough for Rollins to score.† Holding up at third, Rollins didnít take a chance. On the very first pitch to Ryan Howard, Rollins trotted home.† Howard hit a towering drive to right field; a three-run go-ahead home run.

Madson came back out for the bottom of the tenth.† He allowed a lead-off single, but Chase Utley ended the game by turning a fantastic double play on a ball that deflected off the mound.

The question of closer is still very much with us.† Will Brad Lidge catch fire and return to 2008’s form?† Will Brett Myers come back to recapture his form as a closer from 2007?†† Or will Manager Charlie Manuel have to revert to closer-by-committee?† Check out this detailed report on closer options from Phillies Nation.

For the scores of all of Wednesday’s games, click here.

The Phils hope to win Thursday’s series final as strong rookie-of-the-year candidate lefthander J.A. Happ is opposed by Charlie Morton.

For all of Thursday’s games, click here.

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