Phils top Padres, 7-3

Posted: July 21, 2007

SAN DIEGO - The Phillies have plenty of stories to tell about their pitching problems this season.

Two of their better ones faced each other last night at cavernous Petco Park.

Phillies righthander Adam Eaton stepped onto the mound with a 5.98 ERA, the second-worst mark in baseball. Padres righthander Justin Germano, who was 6-3 with a 3.55 ERA in 12 starts, said he hoped to prove just how badly the Phillies erred in March when they put him on waivers.

Neither dazzled, but Eaton left the ballpark knowing he had pitched well enough in a rather long and sometimes ugly 7-3 victory. The victory returned the Phillies to .500 and kept them six games behind the New York Mets in the National League East.

Eaton allowed seven hits, three walks and two runs in 5 2/3 innings. Germano allowed six hits and four runs in 5 1/3 innings.

Did the Phillies have a special plan of attack for Germano?

"Yeah, we had a four-leaf clover and a rabbit's foot," manager Charlie Manuel joked.

But even better than Eaton's pitching, Eaton hit a two-run single to center field with two outs in the fourth inning that broke a tie and handed the Phillies a 4-2 lead. He also survived a special teams-like collision with second base umpire Chris Guccione in the bottom of the third inning. Eaton's shoulder collided with Guccione's leg. Eaton said he expects to feel a little sore today but doesn't think it's serious.

The Padres had just taken a 2-1 lead when it happened. After Eaton walked Brian Giles and allowed a single to Milton Bradley, Adrian Gonzalez doubled to left field to score Giles to give the Padres the lead.

But during the play, Bradley ran for third with nobody covering the base.

Chase Utley and Eaton sprinted toward third.

So did Guccione.

Eaton and Guccione collided as Utley received the throw from leftfielder Pat Burrell. Bradley was safe.

Eaton was bowled over. He acknowledged it was his responsibility to be at third base to begin with.

"That umpire made a pretty good tackle on him, didn't he?" Manuel said. "He took him down."

"I tackled him," Eaton said. "I wanted a blocking call. . . . If I do what I'm supposed to do, I'm there earlier than that. My lack of thought there kind of cost me a little bit. I was praying for a foul ball."

But after he threw a few pitches to make sure he was OK, he continued the inning with runners on second and third and no outs. He got Mike Cameron to fly out to right and struck out both Khalil Greene and Michael Barrett to end the inning.

"Cameron did me a favor by swinging at a 3-0 pitch and popping up," Eaton said. "Then I struck out those other guys and that was definitely huge to keep our deficit at one. I just tried to settle down a little bit and get some quick outs."

Eaton got his other big hit a few minutes later.

Germano walked Utley and allowed a single to Ryan Howard, whose RBI single in the first inning gave him 74 RBIs this season, to put runners on first and second. Aaron Rowand then hit a shallow fly ball to left field. Greene pursued and tried to make an over the shoulder catch.

The ball glanced off his glove.

That's a good thing because Utley was running hard on the play. He scored easily as Howard moved to third. Germano retired Pat Burrell and Wes Helms and then intentionally walked Rod Barajas to load the bases to face Eaton.

Eaton laced a single to center field to score Howard and Rowand.

Eaton lasted until he allowed a two-out double to Geoff Blum with two outs in the sixth. Lefthander J.C. Romero entered and walked the bases loaded before he got Milton Bradley to ground out to end the inning.

Utley provided some insurance in the seventh with a two-run home run to center field off a 3-1 fastball from Doug Brocail.

Utley leads the National League with 81 RBIs. He also leads the league with 41 doubles. His double to left-center field in the ninth inning set a career-high, and there still are 64 games to play.

But the Phillies bullpen proceeded to provide some scares, even with the comfortable lead. After Romero loaded the bases and worked out of a jam in the sixth, Ryan Madson put two on with one out in the seventh and Mike Zagurski loaded the bases with one out in the eighth.

Zagurski allowed a run to score, which forced Charlie Manuel to bring in Antonio Aflonseca.

He got out of the jam.

Alfonseca threw a scoreless ninth inning - he allowed a couple hits - to mercifully end the game and pick up his seventh save.


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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