In a unique long weekend that began on a hot Friday afternoon behind the White House, included a rain-shortened day-night doubleheader, and ended with a strange victory awarded to big-league neophyte Sergio Escalona, the Phillies accomplished what contending teams must do when faced with the dregs of their division: collect wins.
"We played a lot of baseball," said manager Charlie Manuel, smiling after a 31/2-hour win that capped a 35-inning weekend. "We came out 4-0. That's pretty good."
The Phillies scored three runs in the first inning but lost the lead after Chan Ho Park allowed five runs in 11/3 innings. With his team trailing by 6-5 in the eighth inning, Jayson Werth led off with a single and Shane Victorino followed with a walk.
Pedro Feliz then dropped a sacrifice bunt down the third base line, which pitcher Jesus Colome fielded. He fired wide of first base. Werth and Victorino scored, and the Phillies escaped with a lucky win.
The visit to Washington improved the team's road record to 12-4, the best in the majors. That, of course, makes them 8-12 at home, although Werth said afterward that the team was not worried about that.
"It will even out by the end of the year," he said.
But Manuel said that the trend, which he believes is a result of post-championship distractions, cannot continue. "After winning the World Series, we've got more things that we do," he said.
"Players are involved in more things in the public, more things on their own. We won the World Series and sometimes at home we've got so many things to do, but baseball has got to be the priority. . . . When the season ends, we'd better have a winning record at home or we're not going to win anything."
Manuel hoped that Friday's visit to President Obama at the White House, delayed more than a month by the death of announcer Harry Kalas, would allow the Phillies to finally proceed with their season unfettered by memories of last year.
"The visit here, I think, laid 2008 to rest," he said. "And it turns us to 2009. If it doesn't, we've got to keep harping on it."
Contact staff writer Andy Martino at 215-854-4874 or email@example.com.