Phillies hand Tigers first loss with four-run seventh

Posted by Kevin Durso

Roy Halladay allowed three runs in three innings in the Phillies' 7-5 win over the Tigers. (Philliedelphia/Kevin Durso)

With the reigning AL Cy Young and MVP headlining their rotation and a huge offseason signing in slugger Prince Fielder, the Detroit Tigers have moved even higher in the ranks in the American League.

So far this spring, they are showing their depth, coming into today's game undefeated in Spring Training games. Not even the Phillies best could stop the strong performance by the entire Tigers staff.

But the Phillies, who as a road team traveled light, wouldn't go away without a fight, and made this one a game by the end of it.

Roy Halladay was making his second start of spring, and simply got bit by one player having a stellar day.

Eric Patterson stepped up in the first and homered to right, a solo shot to open the scoring. In the third, this time with one on, Patterson did it again to nearly the same spot, just barely clearing the right field fence.

Halladay finished allowing three runs on four hits with no walks and four strikeouts in three innings of work.

Another Tigers' hopeful struck with the longball in the fourth. With Joel Pineiro now pitching, Don Kelly homered to right to extend the Tigers lead to 4-0.

Pineiro pitched two solid innings otherwise, allowing the one run on two hits with no walks and two strikeouts.

The Phillies refused to go quietly. In the sixth, a couple of one-out singles by Luis Montanez and Laynce Nix brought Carlos Ruiz to the plate. With one swing, this was a game again. Ruiz belted a three-run shot to left to cut the lead to one.

After a scoreless frame from Jeremy Horst on the mound, the Phillies continued to score in the seventh. Leadoff singles by Michael Martinez and Juan Pierre set up a chance to tie the game. John Mayberry Jr. did just that, doubling down the line in left to even the score. Montanez followed with an RBI single to give the Phillies the lead. Cesar Hernandez added another run with an RBI groundout. Kevin Frandsen kept things going with an RBI single, which would cap a four-run inning.

Horst retired the first two batters of the seventh before being hit by a liner back to the mound. Horst pitched 1 2/3 innings allowing two hits and striking out one. David Herndon came on to finish the seventh and pitched a scoreless eighth. Brian Sanches would allow an RBI single to Quinten Berry in the ninth, but finished off the Tigers for a 7-5 win.

The Phillies did get off to a slow start, and several starters didn't contribute much. Roy Halladay didn't have his best start on the mound, but also was burnt by two pitches. Things like that happen, even to baseball's best, and the fact that the Phillies didn't fold under a four-run deficit is encouraging.

Offensively, the Phillies only managed two hits through five innings, one by Hunter Pence and the other by Freddy Galvis, both singles. Then in the sixth and seventh, the Phillies really got the bats going. Carlos Ruiz had the big hit, a three-run shot, but several Phillies added RBI hits. It's always encouraging to see Mayberry, Pierre and Martinez come up with those kinds of hits. Surprisingly, it was another great day for Luis Montanez, who was the only Phillie with a multi-hit game, going 2-for-3 with an RBI and two runs scored.

Otherwise, the bullpen pitching was very good today. Pineiro was much better his second time around, and the rest of the bullpen did a superb job in finishing off the Tigers, especially once the Phillies grabbed the lead.

The Phillies are back in Clearwater tomorrow to face the Baltimore Orioles. Joe Blanton is expected to start.

Kevin Durso is a contributor to @Philliedelphia. You can follow him on twitter @KDursoPhilsNet.