Phillies beat Cards to end skid

Posted: July 22, 2010

ST. LOUIS - At least Charlie Manuel has maintained his humor while the Phillies stumble in a season of unfulfilled expectations.

In Thursday's 2-0 victory, his pitching staff one-hit the Cardinals for 10 innings while the Phillies' offense squandered one scoring opportunity after another. Finally, in the 11th, Placido Polanco smoked a hanging Kyle McClellan sinker into the leftfield stands.

"We got to make a free pass around the bases, that way we didn't mess up," Manuel said, laughing. "I wanted to make sure he touched all the bases."

Was that a commentary on the team's baserunning?

"No," Manuel said, "that's a commentary on our luck."

This calamitous 2-6 road trip came to an end with a Phillies win. They remain seven games behind the Atlanta Braves for first place in the National League East and three games back in the wild-card race.

Considering that the offense almost ruined another brilliant pitching performance by Cole Hamels and that the other win on this trip came in Chicago after a shocking rally, the Phillies are lucky to come away with two wins.

"We could be going home 0-8 real easy," Manuel said. "We definitely were in need of a win today."

Incredibly, the Phillies one-hit St. Louis for 11 innings and still barely won. It is believed to be the first 11-inning one-hitter in franchise history.

The lone hit was a Matt Holliday single to left leading off the fifth inning. The Cardinals didn't have a runner on second base until the 11th inning. Hamels pitched eight innings, allowed the one hit to Holliday and a walk, and struck out seven.

And still, it took the Phillies 11 innings to win.

"That's the game," Manuel said. "It's hard to understand."

Until the 11th, the Phillies were 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position. After Polanco's home run, Raul Ibanez walked and Ryan Howard singled. That brought up Jayson Werth, who hadn't gotten a hit with runners in scoring position since June 24. He was 0 for his last 18.

He doubled down the leftfield line off Fernando Salas to score Ibanez.

"I've been feeling better up there the last few days," Werth said.

It rewarded Hamels and four relievers - Ryan Madson, J.C. Romero, Chad Durbin, and Brad Lidge - who held the Cardinals to three baserunners with just one hit. It was so hard to believe, Hamels didn't even realize it happened.

"We did?" Hamels asked. "It was only one?"

Indeed it was, and Hamels started it all. He threw 97 pitches in eight innings, but Manuel decided that was enough because of the stifling heat. Temperature at first pitch was 91 with heavy humidity, and it became even warmer as the afternoon progressed.

Polanco said he joked with Ibanez that it was a good thing the Phillies didn't take batting practice outside before the game or else they wouldn't have had enough energy to play the game.

"I don't think guys wanted to be out there for another inning," Hamels said.

Hamels, for one, overcame the heat. He earned another no-decision but lowered his season ERA to 3.40. In his last 222/3 innings, Hamels has allowed one earned run. He is 1-1 with a 1.72 ERA in five July starts.

His fastball hit 95 and 96 m.p.h. regularly on Thursday. Hamels is at his best when he can put as much separation between his fastball and change-up as possible.

"I give Cole all the credit in the world," Polanco said. "He was unhittable."

That was enough to absolve the offense for one day, but as the Phillies have shown, the unhittable pitching will not be around every day. Eventually, the hitters need to do more.

"I definitely don't see anything wrong with our attitude," Manuel said. "We just don't have good at-bats. We're definitely having trouble knocking people in.

"That's putting it very lightly."

Contact staff writer Matt Gelb

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