Phils complete sweep of White Sox

Posted: June 14, 2007

They wanted a curtain call.

Many of the 42,677 fans at Citizens Bank Park yesterday continued to roar after Aaron Rowand touched home plate in the seventh inning after hitting a grand slam in an 8-4 victory over the Chicago White Sox. They wanted to show their appreciation. But it also seemed they wanted to let everyone in Chicago know that they are enjoying Rowand just as much as they did.

Rowand is revered in Chicago, where he helped the Sox win the World Series in 2005. He carries a similar status in Philadelphia after he mangled his face on the center-field fence pursuing a fly ball last season.

"It feels good, but not because it happened against them," said Rowand, whom the Phillies acquired in a trade with Chicago for Jim Thome after the 2005 season. "It was great to do that just because we won the ball game and swept the series so we can get closer to the Mets and Braves.

"I don't have any ill will toward anybody in that organization. Kenny [Williams, Chicago's general manager,] felt he could better the team by getting a guy like Thome. I know how much he wants to win."

So does Rowand. The victory improved the Phillies to a season-best four games over .500 at 35-31. They moved within 21/2 games of the first-place New York Mets, who played the Dodgers last night in Los Angeles.

This is a team that started the season 4-11. The Phillies were 81/2 games back on June 2.

Rookie righthander Kyle Kendrick replaced injured righthander Freddy Garcia in the Phils' rotation and pitched well in his big-league debut. In six innings, he allowed six hits and three runs. He left the game with his team trailing, 3-2.

The Phillies made it 3-3 in the sixth. Jayson Werth, who made a spectacular diving catch with two outs in the fifth to save at least one run, hustled to beat out an infield single to start the inning. Wes Helms, who hit his first homer of the season in the second, followed with a single to center to move Werth to third.

Rowand stepped in as a pinch-hitter and bounced out to third to plate Werth and tie the score.

"I was already running when I hit it," Werth said of his infield hit to shortstop. "It was a splitter with two strikes. I've done that a number of times in the past where I hit something off-speed over there and beat it out. It's just something I do."

Chase Utley hit a leadoff double in the seventh inning off White Sox lefthander Matt Thornton, who intentionally walked Pat Burrell with one out. Pinch-hitter Abraham Nuñez then hit a bloop single down the right-field line to score Utley. Thornton (2-2) then walked Rod Barajas on four pitches to load the bases with two outs.

Rowand, who remained in the game, stepped back in and smoked an 0-2 cutter over the left-field wall.

"They had been busting me in all series," Rowand said. "That was pretty much their game plan throughout the series - the first two games and today. The first at-bat, I knew they were going to try to do it, so I tried to stay inside the ball so I could get the run in from third. And the last time with two strikes, I was looking for a pitch in but it was actually off the plate."

The White Sox were not surprised that Rowand came up big.

"We know what kind of player he is," Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "He's a special guy."

This is the third time the Phillies have swept a series in recent weeks. They swept the Braves in Atlanta only to lose five of seven at home against Arizona and San Francisco. They swept the Mets last week in New York only to lose two of three in Kansas City.

The Detroit Tigers, the defending American League champions, are in town this weekend.

But until that three-game series starts tomorrow night, Phillies fans can relish Rowand's homer while Sox fans continue to admire him from afar.


 

Listen to the series preview podcast at http://go.philly.com/philliescast.

See a slide show from yesterday's game at http://go.philly.com/photos.


Contact staff writer Todd Zolecki

at 215-854-4874 or tzolecki@phillynews.com.

Read his blog at http://go.philly.com/zozone.

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