Something had to go right.
Raul Ibanez, who was hitting .219 against lefties, laced a go-ahead double to center, scoring Ryan Howard, off perhaps the best lefthanded reliever in baseball, Arthur Rhodes.
"I saw that double," Manuel said, boasting.
And on the day in which almost everything went wrong, there was a positive: The Phillies won.
"That was a hell of a game for us to win," Manuel said. "That would have been a tough game to lose."
Considering what the Phillies went through today, yes, it would have been. Brad Lidge blew a three-run lead in the ninth after retiring the first two batters.
He allowed a monstrous three-run home run to Joey Votto on a slider that stayed in the middle of the plate.
Seventeen of Lidge's 23 pitches were sliders.
"I threw too many sliders," Lidge said. "I love my slider. It's a great pitch for me. But sometimes you get too slider-happy and pay for it. It's a good reminder tonight."
Lidge earned the win, thanks to his teammates of course, his first since July 4, 2008.
Ibanez's RBI double snapped a 30-inning scoreless streak for Rhodes, the former Phillie who entered with a 0.28 ERA. His ERA jumped to 1.13 after allowing three runs in the 10th.
It was a big hit for Ibanez, whom the Phillies will need more from without Utley and Polanco.
Before the game, Phillies assistant general manager Scott Proefrock was pressed with questions about how the team can improve, perhaps via trade, after Utley and Polanco went on the disabled list.
"Quite frankly," Proefrock said, "we have a bunch of good players on this team - four guys who were all-stars last year, a couple former MVPs, a former Cy Young Award winner, a couple 20-game winners, a World Series MVP. The cupboard is not bare. We're still a good team."
He somehow forgot to mention Brian Schneider and Wilson Valdez.
The two former Mets each hit three-run homers against the Reds, providing what seemed to be enough support for the win. Joe Blanton allowed three runs in 72/3 innings before yielding to the bullpen, which blew it. In his last three starts, Blanton has a 3.80 ERA after posting a 7.28 ERA in his first eight starts.
Obviously, no one is saying Schneider and Valdez are long-term solutions, but both players started tonight only because of injuries to regulars. Each player has performed well with expanded playing time.
"That's what it takes," Manuel said. "When the regulars miss time, the guys that fill in definitely have to contribute."
Schneider, starting at catcher for the injured Carlos Ruiz (who should return when the next homestand begins), had three hits for the second time this season. His three-run homer doubled his season total for RBIs.
Valdez filled in for Utley at second. Coming into 2010, he had one home run in 342 career at-bats. This season, he has three in 131 at-bats. He set a career high with four RBIs.
In the 10th, Valdez laid down a successful safety squeeze play (done on his own without a sign) to score Ibanez from third.
"I'll take it," Valdez said. "But at the same time, it's bad because we lost two good players. But the game goes on. We have to move forward."
Contact staff writer Matt Gelb at 215-854-2928 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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