Duo at the top of the lineup are doing their part

Posted: April 20, 2007

WASHINGTON - No Ryan Howard? No problem.

It took the Phillies all of two batters to get on the board in yesterday's 4-2 win over the Nationals. And they did so without the threat of the reigning league MVP batting cleanup.

Jimmy Rollins leadoff double.

Shane Victorino RBI single.

Phils, 1-0.

The previous night, the Phils staked out a 1-0 lead in the second, but surrendered the margin by the bottom of the inning. The difference this time around - aside from Jamie Moyer's brilliant eight-plus innings on the mound - was that the lineup was able to incrementally pad the lead, scoring runs in the second, fifth and sixth innings.

Of course, having Rollins and Victorino hit a combined 5 for 10, each scoring and driving in a run, didn't hurt.

"Anytime we get Rollins and Victorino both on base during the game we should score runs," said Phils manager Charlie Manuel. "I know we've been having a hard time doing it, but any time we do that we got a heck of a chance to score runs. [Their] speed at the top makes us go."

Rollins' double was a blooper down the left-field line, but the shortstop motored into second. Victorino tried to advance Rollins by hitting to the right side. He laced a single into right field, and the Phils were off and running.

"It was nice," said Victorino. "You shoot to be up, 1-0. Jimmy leading the game off with a double is always nice. . . . I tried to get him over and eventually I drove him in, so it's nice. That's why we're up there. We need to get on base."

For the season, both Rollins (.389) and Victorino (.419) have done a fine job of reaching base. The problem has been driving them in.

Thus far, the Nos. 3 and 4 hitters - Chase Utley (.226) and Howard (.174) - have struggled with men on base. But with Howard sidelined with a left leg injury, Pat Burrell moved up a spot, and Greg Dobbs, filling in for Howard at first base, slid into the No. 5 hole.

Before the game, a gimpy Howard expected his mates to soldier on without his formidable "superstar" presence.

"I wouldn't call me a superstar," said Howard. "But you would hope that everybody can come together and rise to the occasion. Dobbs is going to be out there today. I think Dobbs is going to go out there and do some dangerous things."

Dobbs (0 for 4) did not. But Utley went 1 for 4 with a walk, hitting the ball soundly each time. And Burrell worked three walks.

All three, though, were unsuccessful with men on (11 LOB). In the fifth, the Phils - up by 2-0 - had the bases loaded with no outs. Dobbs popped out, but Wes Helms hit a sacrifice fly, scoring Victorino with the eventual game-winning run.

Rollins added an RBI single the following inning, making one wonder whether the top-of-the-order tandem had a different mind-set with Howard absent.

"No, not at all," said Victorino.

Contact staff writer Jeff McLane

at 215-854-4745 or jmclane@phillynews.com.

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