September 19 Philadelphia Inquirer:
After he threw his sixth pitch, a sinker that didn’t sink and hit Ryan Zimmerman on the hand, Kyle Kendrick turned to see Rich Dubee jogging from the dugout.
Already, a run had scored. Two Nationals were on base, and if nothing changed, Kendrick was headed for a short night Saturday at Citizens Bank Park.
“He just said, ‘Stay aggressive. Try and get a ground ball here,’ ” Kendrick said. “I ended up getting a few strikeouts.”
Figures, considering that Kendrick had failed to strike out two batters in three of his last four starts. And so it goes. After all, this is September and these are the Phillies.
They beat the Nationals, 5-2, winning a game started by Kendrick for the first time since Aug. 31. The red-hot Phillies, winners of six in a row, keep rolling with one more game against last-place Washington before the Braves come to Citizens Bank Park and the drama intensifies.
With 13 games left, the Phillies have a three-game lead. The Big Three – Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, and Roy Oswalt – will start 10 of those games. Even after a decent Kendrick start, that’s a comforting fact for the Phils.
So is this: They are playing their best baseball of the season.
“Oh, yeah,” Wilson Valdez said. “We’re playing the way we are supposed to play.”
Pick any Phillies player, and the numbers of late are impressive. That will happen when a team goes 14-3 to begin September.
Shane Victorino has an 11-game hitting streak, which coincides with when he began hitting leadoff for manager Charlie Manuel. In that stretch, Victorino is batting better than .400.
Raul Ibanez is hitting .452 (19 for 42) with eight extra-base hits in his last 11 games. He hit an opposite-field home run in the third inning off Jordan Zimmermann.
Ryan Howard hit his sixth home run of the month and the 252d of his career, which moved him into third place on the Phillies‘ all-time home run list. It broke a tie with Pat Burrell and also gave him five consecutive seasons with at least 30 home runs and 100 RBIs, setting a franchise record formerly held by Chuck Klein.
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