Phils rip Reds as Ruiz steals home

Posted: June 26, 2007

Has Kyle Kendrick proved himself to be a long-term solution for the Phillies' rotation?

Not yet.

It's still too early to reach that conclusion. But he has pitched well enough in his first three starts that the Phillies aren't at DEFCON 5 after losing starters Freddy Garcia and Jon Lieber in a span of 12 days this month. (They're at more like DEFCON 4.) They still are looking to trade for a starter to replace Lieber, who likely is lost for the season. But the Phillies are undefeated in Kendrick's starts as Garcia's replacement, including tonight's 11-4 victory over the Cincinnati Reds at Citizens Bank Park.

On a night when catcher Carlos Ruiz stole home and Ryan Howard, Shane Victorino and Chase Utley hit home runs, the Phillies pulled within 21/2 games of the New York Mets in the National League East.

In six-plus innings, Kendrick allowed six hits, four runs, three walks and two home runs. He struck out two.

He is 2-0 with a 5.00 ERA.

"I want to go out there and show what I've got," Kendrick said. "But it's only three starts. I don't feel like I've shown anything yet. I really haven't, so I've just got to keep working hard."

Kendrick might not feel he has shown his best, but if he can pitch six or seven innings and allow three or four runs, the offense feels it can handle the rest. The Phils have scored 28 runs in his three starts, and they appreciate the job Kendrick has done so far.

"He comes in and he's attacking the strike zone," Aaron Rowand said. "He's not trying to feel for it. He's not tentative. He's not afraid to have balls hit hard off him. He's going out there and going at guys, and it shows. He's not pitching scared. He's out there pitching and he's confident in his own abilities, which is big. The way we swing the bats, he's going out there and giving us a chance to win."

Kendrick loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the first inning, but allowed just one run to score.

The offense took over from there.

The Phillies took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the first on Howard's two-out, two-run homer to right off Reds rookie Homer Bailey. It was Howard's 17th homer this season. He has 53 RBIs.

Bailey allowed consecutive singles to Victorino, Greg Dobbs and Ruiz to start the second to make it 3-1. The rookie walked Kendrick on four pitches to load the bases. After Jimmy Rollins hit into a double play to score Dobbs and move Ruiz to third, Michael Bourn walked for the second time in as many at-bats.

That's when Bourn, who went 1 for 3 with two walks and a run, showed his speed. He stole second, and that opened the opportunity for Ruiz to steal home.

He did.

"I wanted to make sure the ball got to second," Ruiz said. "When it did, I knew I had to go."

Shortstop Alex Gonzalez's throw home from second was high and wide, and Ruiz slid safely to make it 5-1.

"I put that on, of course," manager Charlie Manuel said jokingly.

It marked the first time the Phillies had stolen home since June 5, 1997, when Scott Rolen came home on a double-steal - Derrick May stole second - against the Chicago Cubs at Veterans Stadium. It also marked the first time a Phillies catcher had stolen home since June 18, 1982, when Bo Diaz did it on a double-steal - Manny Trillo stole second - against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Three Rivers Stadium.

Utley, who hit a solo homer to center in the seventh, followed with a single to right to score Bourn, making it 6-1.

Bailey's night ended there.

But the Phillies' night continued. Victorino homered in the third to make it 7-1, and Ruiz cleared the bases with a two-out, three-run double in the fourth to make it 10-2. Ruiz went 3 for 4 with two doubles and a career-high four RBIs. Utley went 3 for 4 with a homer and two RBIs and Dobbs went 3 for 4.

But once again, Kendrick kept the Phillies in it. That's all they want him to do.

"Right now, he's right there," said Manuel, asked about Kendrick's long-term prospects. "He's given us three very good starts. He's a young kid, but he's doing fine."


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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