Posted by Kevin Durso
It is a pretty rare occasion to find such significant absences in the Phillies' lineup. But, tonight, the Phillies were without Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and Jimmy Rollins. Ryan Howard has been battling a foot ailment. Rollins was fresh off the DL, but only for emergency use. Utley is back in Philadelphia awaiting tests for a possible mild concussion. And the rest of the Phillies made it clear that there is no reason to worry about resting the stars and preparing for the playoffs, as they once again stood tall against a potential playoff foe.
For most of the game, this was a pitcher's duel. Through four innings, Cole Hamels had faced one over the minimum. Chris Narveson was pitching a no-hitter. Finally in the fifth, the Brewers broke through first. Yuniesky Betancourt homered to left-center, a solo shot, giving the Brewers the lead.
But, the Phillies are never put away with just one swing. The sixth was their time to shine. A two-out double by Shane Victorino gave the Phillies a chance. That's when some of the fill-ins got a chance to contribute. Wilson Valdez was first, doubling home Victorino to tie the game. After Placido Polanco walked, Hunter Pence delivered with a two-run triple, giving the Phillies the lead. John Mayberry Jr. added an RBI single, Carlos Ruiz added an RBI double, and finally, an RBI single by Ben Francisco capped a six-run sixth.
Corey Hart trimmed the lead with a solo shot in the sixth for the Brewers, but that was all the Brewers could get off Cole Hamels.
A ninth-inning insurance run was added by Pence, who picked up three RBIs on the night.
Hamels limited the Brewers all night. Just two big swings from the Brewers was all they had to show off Hamels, and hot hitters Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder combined to go 1-for-8 tonight. Hamels would stay in for the ninth, and finish the job, allowing two runs on four hits, walking two and striking out two in a complete-game effort, as the Phillies picked up their fourth straight win, 7-2.
Tonight's game was one that shows the Phillies are the team to beat, and there's no question. After sweeping the Braves with three excellent games, all different in their own way, the Phillies tamed one of the hottest teams in baseball lately. The Brewers are running away with the NL Central. They will likely have the next best record in the National League. They were also baseball's best team at home. The Phillies ignored all factors, and despite being shorthanded, picked up a huge win.
After being no-hit for four innings, the Phillies really poured it on the rest of the way. Wilson Valdez, Hunter Pence, John Mayberry Jr., and Ben Francisco each had multi-hit nights. Pence led the team with three RBIs, while the other three each added one of their own. With the exception of Hamels, every starter at the plate had a hit.
And with Hamels dominating on the mound again, he would not be denied a win tonight. Game's like this look like one that will be decided on one swing, especially when the scoring is low, and the pitchers are dealing. But, Hamels had a bounce-back offense, and carried the team the rest of the way after a huge sixth at the plate.
The Braves played a doubleheader with the Mets today, and won both games. The NL East lead is down to 10 games, but the magic number is reduced by one to 11. Everything is getting closer. And it won't be long before the Phillies can stop calling everything a test for the Postseason. They are ready to go. All they need is a little health and an opponent.
The Phillies go for their fifth straight win tomorrow night against the Brewers. Roy Halladay gets the start against Shawn Marcum.