Booed And Beaten Phillies Wreck Drew's Big Night

Posted: August 11, 1999

All the spicy little subplots that have turned the Phillies and Cardinals into fierce rivals rose to the surface in a wild - and momentarily ugly - game last night at raucous Veterans Stadium.

On the verge of tying a season-high four-game losing streak, the Phillies jumped on Ron Gant's broad shoulders and rallied for five runs in the bottom of the eighth inning for an emotional 7-5 victory in front of a madhouse throng of 48,514.

The ecstacy that usually accompanies a win such as this did not show on manager Terry Francona's face afterward. In fact, Francona wore a look of utter embarrassment.

Moments before Gant doubled off former Phillies closer Ricky Bottalico with the bases loaded to give the Phils the lead, Cardinals centerfielder J.D. Drew was the target of two size-D batteries that were heaved from the upper deck.

Drew, the former Phils' No. 1 draft pick, was booed like an enemy of the people all night. But someone went too far.

While the Phils celebrated their win on the field, Francona sought out Cardinals trainer Barry Weinberg and asked him to send his apologies for the battery-tossing to Cards manager Tony La Russa.

"You've got a couple of dummies up there, messing it up for everyone," Francona said. "I didn't think Tony would want to talk after this game, but I'll look him up [today]."

The batteries came out of the stands while La Russa was bringing Bottalico in from the bullpen.

Second base umpire Ed Montague, the crew chief, saw the batteries land and sent Drew to the dugout.

Drew returned after Bottalico finished his warm-ups. Montague warned the Phillies that one more thrown object would result in the game being forfeited.

"I was a little concerned about that," Francona said. "But I was more concerned for [Drew's] safety. I have no ill will toward that kid. For whatever reason, it didn't work out here. But I don't want that kid being hit by batteries."

Said Montague: "Booing is fine. But doing something that could harm, injure, maim or kill someone is another thing. A few people put a black mark on this game. You could kill someone throwing something from that height.

"This is a tough deal. That kid's decisions are not my business. But if he walked into your living room, you'd love him. He's a very down-to-earth kid."

After the game, his first-ever start against the Phillies, Drew was asked what sort of reception he expected to get.

"Exactly what I got," he said, straight-faced. "It's something I'll never forget."

Drew was asked about the batteries.

"They came pretty close," he said. "I heard rumors that they throw those things every now and then. In the back of my mind, I was hoping that they wouldn't."

Despite the venom directed at him, Drew was able to make it clear that he has a beautiful lefthanded swing. He tripled to the gap in right-center in the third inning and singled in a run in the top of the eighth.

"If you go out there and let them get to you, you won't play to your capabilities," Drew said. "I wanted to go out and just show the people of Philadelphia I can play baseball. I enjoy playing baseball. Judge me by the way I play on the field."

If the Phillies had signed Drew, they wouldn't have made a trade with the Cardinals to get Gant last November.

"Things happen for a reason," Gant said. "I'm a Phillie for a reason. He's a Cardinal for a reason. The bottom line is we won a big game that was important because we're in a pennant race."

The Phils are 5 1/2 games behind the Mets in the wild-card chase.

Two batters after Gant's big hit in the eighth, Scott Rolen atoned for a costly fourth-inning error with a sharp RBI single to left.

Gant's bases-loaded double and Rolen's run-scoring single both came off Bottalico, who had trouble throwing strikes in his return to the Vet.

For that matter, every Cardinals pitcher had trouble throwing strikes. They walked 12 hitters.

Gant's double was his third extra-base hit against the Cardinals in two nights. He homered twice in Monday's 12-6 loss.

The big hits have been sweet for Gant. In spring training, he hooked up in an ugly war of words with La Russa. Gant made it clear that he did not think much of La Russa as a person, and La Russa made it clear he didn't think much of Gant as a player.

Gant downplayed the revenge angle.

"They already knew what type of player I was because I helped them win championships," Gant said.

The huge crowd was thrilled by the win - which was finalized by Wayne Gomes' 17th save. But it was disappointed that Mark McGwire, himself a big reason for the large turnout, only batted once.

McGwire had to leave the game in the second inning due to tightness in his lower back. He is questionable for tonight's game.

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