1st Baseman Ryan Howard, leftfielder Pat Burrell and centerfielder Aaron Rowand staked the Phillies to a 5-0 lead after 3 innings, but it took 9th inning hitting and base-running heroics by rightfielder Jayson Werth and pinch hitter Tadahito Iguchi to set the stage for 2nd baseman Chase Utley’s walk-off single driving in the winning run off of Mets closer and losing pitcher Billy Wagner as the Phils blew two leads but showed why the lead the NL in hitting in emerging victorious by an 11-10 score to sweep their four game series with the NL East leading New York Mets.
With the win and the series sweep, the Phillies have now moved to within 2 games of the NL East leaders in what promises to be a white-hot division race in September. They remain in second place, now 2 1/2 games ahead of the Atlanta Braves who had an off-day on the schedule. The Phils are now 2 games behind wild card leading San Diego who were defeated by the Arizona Diamondbacks who have retaken the NL Central Division lead.
The Phillies lit up “El Duque” Orlando Hernandez early and often as Howard pounded his 36th homer, a 2 run shot to centerfield in the 1st inning and Burrell rifled his 23rd dinger, a 2 run shot in the 3rd and the first of 2 homers in the game. Rowand followed Burrell with a solo shot and the Phillies were rolling with a 5-0 lead after 3 innings.
Kyle Lohse, who had given up 2 hits through 3 innings, was touched in the 4th inning for 3 Met runs. With one out, rightfielder Shawn Green doubled driving in a run. 2nd baseman Reuben Gotay drove in the 2nd run with a groundout. Then Lastings Milledge, pinch hitting for Hernandez, singled in the 3rd Met run to chase Lohse and close to 5-3. Reliever Geoff Geary got the side out in the 4th inning but was pounded in the 5th.
The Mets tied the game with 2 runs in the 5th on centerfielder Carlos Beltran’s RBI single and Shawn Green’s RBI sacrifice fly.
The Phils came back in their half of the 5th with 3 runs off of reliever Aaron Sele to take an 8-5 lead as catcher Carlos Ruiz, pinch hitter Shane Victorino and shortstop Jimmy Rollins each singled in runs.
The Phillies’ 8-5 lead held up until the 8th inning when the Mets pounded J.C. Romero and Antonio Alfonseca for 5 runs to take their first lead of the game by 10-8. I sat wondering how it is possible that manager Charlie Manuel nearly let the game get out of hnd by staying with Alfonseca as long as he did.
AP Sports Writer Rob Maaddi recaps the inning for Yahoo sports;
With the Mets ahead by 2 runs to begin the Phillies’ half of the 8th inning, they called upon closer Billy Wagner “who hadn’t pitched since last Friday after experiencing a tired arm.”
AP Sports Writer Rob Maaddi recaps the last inning and a half;
Looking for his first six-out save in eight years, Wagner (2-2) gave up Burrell’s solo shot in the eighth and immediately ran into trouble in the ninth.
Jayson Werth hit a leadoff single, then stole second and third on consecutive pitches with one out. Pinch-hitter Tadahito Iguchi’s single to left tied it at 10.
Jimmy Rollins was intentionally walked after Iguchi stole second, bringing up Utley, who entered the game leading the NL in batting average. The All-Star second baseman, playing his third game after missing a month with a broken hand, worked a full count before lining a single to right field to score Iguchi and send the crowd into a frenzy.
Fans chanted “Sweep! Sweep! Sweep!” as they left the ballpark. One man held a broom he sneaked in.
“When Utley was batting, that’s the loudest I ever heard it,” Burrell said.
It was Philadelphia’s first four-game sweep over any team since doing it against the Mets in September 2003 at old Veterans Stadium.
The Phillies have sliced five games off New York’s lead with five straight wins while the Mets have lost five in a row.
Wagner has blown his last two save opportunities and is 29-of-33 this year with two blown saves against Philadelphia. The All-Star closer left the Phillies to sign with New York before last season.
“I felt fresh. I was fine,” Wagner said. “I was trying to make pitches and I was unable to make them.”
Reliever Tom Gordon (2-2), who pitched a clean 9th inning was credited with the win.
For the scores, boxscores and recaps on this and all of Thursday’s games, click here.
The Phillies, in hot pursuit of the Mets, now take to the road for a 3 game series with the Florida Marlins.
In Friday’s opener, surprising rookie Kyle Kendrick is opposed by Sergio Mitre. On Saturday, equally surprising J.D. Durbin faces Byung-Hyun Kim.
For the scores, boxscores and recaps on all of Friday’s and Saturday’s games, click here and here.