Fives on the Prize: Phillies roll to win, and fifth straight NL East crown

Posted by Kevin Durso

Philadelphia Phillies' Hunter Pence celebrates in the locker room after the Phillies beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 9-2 in a baseball game to clinch the NL East title Saturday, Sept. 17, 2011, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Hunter Pence gets a champagne shower after the Phillies clinched the NL East (Courtesy of

One. The Phillies already had 97 wins. All they needed was one more. The Braves weren’t going to help today. The Phillies had to earn the title themselves. So, with Roy Oswalt on the mound, and the regular lineup back together, they did just that.

The Phillies had control from the beginning. Hunter Pence doubled home a run in the first.

Shane Victorino worked a bases loaded walk in the fourth to extend the lead.

In the sixth, Victorino seemed to seal the crown, blasted a solo shot to center.

The Cardinals gave the Phillies a reminder that it ain’t over ‘til it’s over. The Cards plated a pair of runs off Mike Stutes in the eighth to cut the lead to one.

The Phillies could have used an insurance run in the eighth. They got a whole lot more than one. Victorino singled up the middle to score one. Pence legged out an infield single for another. Raul Ibanez popped the first bottle of champagne, figuratively, with a grand slam. That blew it wide open, and the game seemed over from there.

Ryan Madson officially capped off the NL East Championship clincher with a scoreless ninth, ended on a grounder to second base by Rafael Furcal, and sealed the win for the Phillies, a 9-2 rout of the Cardinals.

Five straight National League East titles; it doesn’t seem real yet. This year should make it seem real, because, as a team, the Phillies haven’t peaked yet. They keep getting better every year. The Phillies had a goal, and so far, it’s been put into effect by taking the first step.

Roy Oswalt’s seven shutout innings all but sealed his place in the Postseason rotation. Brad Lidge picked up a key final out in the eighth to end a threat for the Cardinals. The Cardinals hardly seemed like a threat once the ninth came.

This group of Phillies is simply the greatest. These are the best things will be, and it will be a long time, probably another lifetime away, when another group could put together a string of wins and seasons like this. It may never happen again. And as long as you have watched one game this season, you’ve seen something magical, something larger than life. There is simply no way to describe how good they are, and how lucky are we to be watching it.

Everything was good tonight. The offense was excellent, exploding for the runs in the eighth. The defense was solid. The pitching was superb. And the Phillies played like champions.

So celebrate Phillies fans, this is just the first step to another great October.