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Phillies Sweep Doubleheader From Marlins, 2 Wins From NL East Clinch

       
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Kyle Kendrick    Hunter Pence    Raul IbanezJohn Mayberry, Jr.    Ryan Howard   Cliff Lee

In game 1, Phillies starter/reliever Kyle Kendrick pitched five innings and 78 pitches of 1 run, 2 hit ball while the offense put 2 first inning runs up off of Florida’s Anibal Sanchez on RBI doubles by leftfielder Raul Ibanez and rightfielder Hunter Pence.   Kendrick and the Phils bullpen made the lead stand up and the Phils got an insurance run in the seventh inning on 2 singles and 2 walks off of reliever Ryan Webb, the latter walk coming with the sacks jammed forcing in the 3rd Phillies run.   Closer Ryan Madson had a shaky ninth inning giving up singles to the first 2 hitters he faced, but came out unscathed to notch his 31st save after a bunt ground out, a strikeout, and a foul out.

In game 2, All Star lefthander Cliff Lee dueled with recently called-up Alex Sanabia for six innings with the Phils taking a 1-0 lead in the sixth on outfielder John Mayberry Jr.’s leadoff solo shot, as manager Charlie Manuel rested regulars centerfielder Shane Victorino, 1st baseman Ryan Howard and 3rd baseman Placido Polanco.   Lee had another masterful outing striking out 12 and giving up a run on 5 hits although he was 1 pitch from closing out the Marlins and recording his 17th win when 1st baseman Jose Lopez stroked a game-tying solo shot to leftfield to tie the game.  Young reliever Michael Schwimmer went clean on the Marlins in the tenth to record his 1st MLB win when Howard pinch-hit in the Phils’ tenth and stroked reliever  Burke Badenhop’s 3-1 pitch to deep centerfield for a walkoff RBI double after Badenhop walked 3rd baseman Michael Martinez to open the inning.   The Phillies swept the doubleheader from Marlins by 3-1 and  2-1 scores and are 2 wins from clinching the NL East championship for the fifth straight season.

With their doubleheader sweep of Florida, the Phillies’ NL East lead reached 12 games over the 2nd place  Atlanta Braves who had the day off.   The Braves remained 4 1/2 games up on the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Wild Card race as the Cards also had the day off.   The 3rd place Washington Nationals are 26 games back after pounding the 4th place Mets who are 27 games back .  The last place Marlins dropped to 31 games behind the front-runners.   The Phils magic number (combination of Phils wins and Braves losses) to clinch the NL East title is now 2 games.

One of the great mysteries of life is why manager Charlie Manuel pulled the plug on Kendrick sooo early in game 1, after five innings and 78 pitches.   His ground ball/fly ball ratio was nearly even at 4-5 and he struck out 6 while looking strong.  His performance was worthy of sticking with him for another inning or two.  His only mistake was leftfielder Logan Morrison’s lead-off solo shot on a 3-2 pitch in the fifth.  But Kendrick recovered well afterwards, only allowing an infield single and getting through the inning with a pop-out and 2 strikeouts.  Why Manuel had to unduly burden his bullpen at that point is hard to understand.  But it worked, although the 4 relievers gave up 6 hits and issued 3 walks and the Marlins pressed the Phils the rest of way but came up empty.

Although not getting his 17th win, Lee lowered his ERA to 2.38 and his gem came one day after Roy Halladay’s 1-0 masterpiece over Houston.   Thus, Phillies pitching had been scored upon but once in 30 2/3 innings prior to Lopez’s game-tying shot off of Lee on an 0-2 count in the ninth inning of game 2.   For Lee, Lopez’s hmer was only the 5th run scored against him, and the 2nd homer he gave up in his last 64 2/3 innings.

For AP’s game recaps on the doubleheader for Yahoo sports, click here and here.

For all of Thursday’s scores and recaps, click here.

The Phillies now open a 4 game series with the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday through next Monday.    In Friday’s opener, rookie Vance Worley goes for his 12th win opposed by lefthander Jaime Garcia for the Cards.   On Saturday, Roy Oswalt tries to get back on track going against Jake Westbrook.

For all of Friday’s and Saturday’s scheduled games throughout MLB, click here and here.

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