Make Broom For Phils

Sweep Mets in wild finish, cut lead to 2

Posted: August 31, 2007

FLASH GORDON stood on the Phillies' bullpen mound in the bottom of the eighth inning, unable to believe what was happening.

An hour later, Billy Wagner sat on the Mets' clubhouse couch, unable to believe what had happened.

Wagner gave up a homer to Pat "One-Path Swing" Burrell in the eighth. He then coughed up two more runs in the ninth on three singles from Jayson Werth, Tadahito Iguchi and, finally, Chase Utley, as well as two steals by Werth.

To the delight of a mostly Phillies-centric 42,552 at Citizens Bank Park, who generally resent Wagner after he spat on the town when he left it 2 years ago, he served the Phillies the final win in a four-game sweep, 11-10, their 40th comeback victory of the year.

"Gotta hand it to the fans: It was the best it's been since I've been here," said Burrell, the longest tenured Phillie at 8 years. He also homered in the first inning, part of the 5-0 lead the Phils had by the end of the third. "They stuck around."

"I've got to agree," Utley said. "It was crazy."

The assemblage knew the Mets' lead in the National League East had shrunk from seven games to two, the Phils having won five straight, the Mets having lost the same.

After salvaging a 6-4 mark in their 10-game homestand that began 1-4, the Phillies begin a three-game series tonight in Florida against a team that has lost 13 of 15 and is the worst home team in baseball.

"That's what we have to think about," shortstop Jimmy Rollins said.

Wagner will think about this yesterday for a while. "I didn't hold up my end," he said.

Gordon did. He managed a perfect ninth and moved to 2-2.

That was rare efficiency yesterday from the Phillies' bullpen that had allowed nothing over 10 innings the first three wins before yesterday's seven-run embarrassment, highlighted by the four Antonio Alfonseca surrendered in the Mets' five-run eighth that turned an 8-5 lead into a 10-8 deficit.

And then, Burrell's 24th homer of the season and his first against Wagner since June 7, a solo shot that forced extra innings in a Phillies win. After that game Wagner, who clashed with Burrell in his two seasons as a Phillie, said Burrell had a "one-path swing, and I threw it in its path."

Yesterday, Wagner - in his first outings since being sidelined for four games with a dead arm - was more diplomatic: "He's swinging differently now. He's swinging well. I tried to get that ball up."

The way things were going for the Phillies, he could have thrown it over the backstop and somehow Burrell - who had four homers in the series - would have crushed it.

"I've been here 6 years," said closer Brett Myers, unavailable after throwing three innings in 2 days. "There's been nothing like these last four games."

Monday marked Utley's return to the lineup after 4 1/2 weeks off with a broken hand. He collected three hits, including a homer. Werth, playing in place of gimpy Shane Victorino, got a hit in each of his at-bats in the 9-2 win.

Tuesday, it was Aaron Rowand's 45-foot, game-tying RBI in the eighth, and the two-run, walkoff homer from Ryan Howard that won it in the 10th, 4-2, when Myers pitched two innings. Howard hit another yesterday, his 36th.

Mets pinch-hitter Marlon Anderson executed an illegal slide at second base on a one-out doubleplay ball that ensured the Phillies' 3-2 win Wednesday . . . and there was Burrell's solo homer, then his sacrifice fly, each of which gave the Phillies the lead.

"The way they played ball the last 4 days, you've got to tip your hat to them," Mets manager Willie Randolph said. "This - this was a tough, tough loss."

Especially the way it came.

Randolph's starter, Orlando Hernandez, logged his first poor start since July 4, gone after three innings and five runs. Kyle Lohse was nearly as bad; he lasted 3 1/3 innings and gave up three.

Then, the bullpen battle (farce?) began. Geoff Geary gave up two runs to the Mets; Aaron Sele, three to the Phillies; J.C. Romero, (pitching for the fourth time in as many days) and Alfonseca, five in the eighth.

And then . . . Wagner's fastball found Burrell's path in the eighth.

In the ninth, Werth poked a single into left, bringing pinch-hitter Tadahito Iguchi to the plate. After a brief conference with first-base coach Davey Lopes, who actually mimed Wagner's terrible pickoff move, Werth stole second. Then, third.

Iguchi's single to left tied it . . . and then he stole second. That prompted Wagner to intentionally walk Rollins, now meaningless, to face Utley, whom he struck out in the eighth.

Not this time. After a first-pitch slider, Utley just waited for a fastball he could handle. He pulled one, 3-2, into rightfield. Iguchi scored.

Utley was mobbed: "It was pretty sweet." His feelings? "Relief."

Gordon, flabbergasted: "I couldn't believe it."

Wagner, dejected. He sat on the clubhouse couch because his locker chair was missing. He sat there, mopping sweat, while Randolph defended the decision to use him: "He faced the meat of their lineup. That's what he's paid to do." Randolph also said, "Closers usually don't have a very good pickoff move."

Wagner sat there, and absorbed the final bit of punishment meted out to the Mets this series.

"Could be worse, I guess," said Wagner, now 2-2. "I could have to work for a living." *

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