Jul 262010

July 26 Philadelphia Daily News

“EVEN THOUGH THE storm clouds that hovered for the majority of the afternoon waited until the end of the sixth inning to erupt, the Phillies still hadn’t left much of a clue about their intentions when the inevitable rain delay interrupted the proceedings.

That changed shortly after the hour-and-a-half interlude.

A seventh inning in which Jimmy Rollins hit a game-tying RBI single and scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch proved to be the difference in a hectic, 4-3 victory over Colorado that pulled the Phillies to within five games of the Braves in the National League East.

By the end of it, their prospects looked a lot like the skies above Citizens Bank Park: brighter than you ever thought possible. Not only did they win their fourth straight game and improve to 52-46, they sent the Rockies to their fifth straight loss and surpassed them in the wild-card standings.

If they can cap off the four-game sweep this afternoon, they will have won five straight games for the first time since the second week of the season.

“I think we’re feeling real good right now,” said righthander Brad Lidge, who recorded his ninth save in 12 opportunities to close out the win. “We have to stay after it, keep doing the things we’re doing. We’re doing a lot of little things right now. Moving runners over, stealing bases, going first to third – all of those little things really help. If we stay aggressive and we keep putting the bat on the ball, we’re going to do really well.”

Lidge didn’t leave himself any room for error, loading the bases before catching Ian Stewart looking at a 2-2 slider to finish the tight-rope save.

Two innings earlier, Ryan Madson loaded the bases with one out and then battled back to strand them to put Rollins in position to spark the rally.

With the Phils trailing, 3-2, Wilson Valdez led off the bottom of the seventh with a ground-rule double, one of three pinch-hit doubles they managed on the day. The situation looked promising, but the Phillies already had failed to tie the game or take the lead in the fourth and fifth despite having a runner on third with less than two outs in each frame. In the fourth, Cody Ransom struck out and Carlos Ruiz grounded out to leave the bases loaded, squandering a one-out double by Jayson Werth that put runners on second and third with one out. In the fifth, Raul Ibanez led off with a double to rightfield and Rollins followed with a single up the middle to put runners at the corners with no out. But neither Shane Victorino nor Placido Polanco was able to get the ball out of the infield – Victorino popped out to first base and Polanco lined out to third – and Ryan Howard flew out to leftfield to end the inning.

But in the seventh, Rollins followed Valdez with a single to left-center that tied the game at 3. Rollins, who ended up at second on the play when leftfielder Carlos Gonzalez couldn’t field the hit cleanly, stole third base with two outs, putting him in position to score on a wild pitch from Rafael Betancourt to Jayson Werth.

J.A. Happ, who was making his first start since April 15 thanks to an elbow strain, had mixed results. His velocity sat between 89-91 mph, a good sign given his struggles at building arm speed during a rehab process that lasted around 2 1/2 months. Although he battled his command at times, walking four and throwing 57 of 92 pitches for strikes, Happ said he was happy with the outing.”

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