Then, in the second inning, the breaks went the Phillies' way. Shane Victorino hit a bases-loaded triple to cap the four-run inning. And it was all 47-year-old Jamie Moyer needed as he pitched eight innings to become the oldest pitcher to ever beat the Yankees.
"I don't know how he does it, the old man," Victorino said.
During this monthlong slump, little has gone right for the Phillies, who have won nine of their last 26 games. Has it been bad baseball? Yes. But is there a little bit of luck involved? Of course.
Manager Charlie Manuel has stressed the positive after every loss, believing his offense would come around. It takes something small, like just getting a lead, Manuel has said repeatedly.
The second inning had to take some pressure off a frustrated team.
With one out, Raul Ibanez walked. Ibanez, who had not stolen a base in more than a year, stole second just ahead of Jorge Posada's throw.
"We tried to create something," Manuel said. "We haven't been doing too much."
Greg Dobbs, who had not driven in a run in 42 days, singled to right to score Ibanez. Before the game, Manuel said he started Dobbs at designated hitter because he was 4 for 6 against Yankees starter A.J. Burnett in his career (small sample size notwithstanding).
"It's a huge moral victory for me," Dobbs said.
Backup catcher Brian Schneider walked. Then Valdez hit a grounder that bounced off Burnett's leg for an infield single. It could have been an inning-ending double play if Burnett had fielded it cleanly. Instead, the bases were loaded.
Victorino cleared them with his triple to snap a 0-for-16 skid.
How's that for karma?
"That's good managing," Manuel joked.
Now, for it to be more than just good luck, the Phillies will have to continue to hit. They at least showed some positive signs Wednesday. But they still didn't manage a hit after the fifth inning.
The Phillies scored the game's first run for only the third time in 23 games.
Coming into the game, they had stolen the second fewest bases in the National League. They swiped three bags Wednesday, marking a season high.
Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth hit back-to-back home runs in the third inning, the first time the Phillies have done that in 2010.
"It felt good," Howard said.
Moyer, coming off the worst start of his 24-year career, allowed only two runs, both on solo homers. The only other hit he allowed was an infield single by Kevin Russo in the eighth.
"Boston was five days ago," Moyer said. "It was in the back of my mind."
Moyer was making his first start against the Yankees in five years and quickly ensured it would be longer than his one-inning outing against Boston at Fenway Park on Friday.
He shut down a Yankees offense that rattled Phillies ace Roy Halladay a night before. Take away his disastrous Boston start and Moyer's season ERA is 3.81.
Not bad for a 47-year-old lefthander.
Sparked by voodoo or not, the Phillies can take plenty of positives from Wednesday's win, Victorino said.
"We're starting to get there," he said. "No panic."
Contact staff writer Matt Gelb
at 215-854-2928 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/magelb.