Phillies use pinch of offense to beat Marlins

Associated Press
Associated Press
Posted: May 12, 2011

MIAMI - For six innings, it looked like more of the same. Another solid start by Cliff Lee. Another night of offensive futility. So when the seventh inning rolled around, and the Phillies, trailing by three runs, put runners on the corners with one out, Charlie Manuel started managing like it was the last at-bat of Game 7. First, he substituted one light-hitting utility man for another, calling on the lefthanded Pete Orr to replace Wilson Valdez against righty Ricky Nolasco. Then, after Orr's RBI double, he yanked - and we mean that literally - Lee out of the game after 82 pitches for a pinch-hitter.

"That might be the last chance we have to score a run," Manuel said later as the Phillies packed up their clubhouse and headed to Atlanta.

You can't blame him for thinking that way, not with the way his offense had swung the bat heading into the game, and certainly not after his maneuvering helped spark a come-from-behind 5-3 victory that enabled the Phillies to take two of three from the second-place Marlins. The Phillies entered the night having failed to score in the previous 21 innings that Lee had taken the mound.

And when Brian Schneider pulled a hamstring rounding third base on what would have been a game-tying RBI single by Lee in the fifth, it looked like they might never score again. The veteran catcher made it back to third base safely, but left the game in obvious pain and expects to be placed on the disabled list today.

"Obviously, you are hissed off because you got hurt," said Schneider, who was limping badly after the game, "but even more because you would have scored a run to tie the game up."

Instead, Jimmy Rollins sent a dribbler to second base to end the inning. By the time Raul Ibanez doubled to lead off the seventh, the Marlins had increased their lead to 3-0. But then something clicked. Dane Sardinha, who replaced Schneider in the fifth, hit a routine ground ball that Marlins first baseman Gaby Sanchez was unable to handle. With one out and runners on the corners, Manuel called on Orr to replace Valdez, who entered the night hitting .180 with one extra-base hit in his previous 25 games. Orr was hitting just .234 with one extra-base hit on the season, but Manuel wanted to put a lefthanded bat on Nolasco, who, to that point, had allowed just four hits and two walks with six strikeouts in 6 innings. The veteran utility man responded, fighting off a 1-2 slider on the inside corner and hooking it just inside the rightfield foul line for an RBI double that cut the deficit to 3-1.

At that point, Lee walked out toward the batter's box ready to hit. The lefty had allowed a solo home run to Hanley Ramirez in the first inning and a couple of runs in the sixth. But with one out and runners on second and third, Manuel hustled out to stop him as Ross Gload prepared to hit.

"I felt good and could have kept going, but obviously there was a situation where we needed to pinch-hit," said Lee, who allowed three runs, seven hits and no walks while striking out four in six innings of a no-decision. "That happens in the National League."

Gload grounded out to the right side of the infield, which allowed Sardinha to score from third. Rollins then grounded out to the pitchers mound, leaving the tying run on third. Still, there was life in the Phillies dugout.

"The momentum shifted to our side," Manuel said. "When Raul and Orr got the doubles, it kind of shifted to our side. We got some breaks. Things started happening for us."

One of those breaks came in the eighth, when Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez elected to use lefty Mike Dunn against Shane Victorino. That, despite the fact that the switch-hitting Victorino is a much better hitter from the right side of the plate. Victorino made him pay, hitting a solo home run to tie the game at 3-3. It was just the fourth time in 36 innings that the Phillies had scored a run against an opposing reliever.

In the ninth, they did it twice more.

Sardinha led off with a single, and Orr followed with his second double of the night. Then, with two outs, Rollins atoned for his earlier ground outs - as well as a costly throwing error the night before - by lacing a two-run single to rightfield that lifted the Phillies to the win and a 24-12 record.

There were other important contributions - a scoreless eighth in a tie game by Kyle Kendrick; a scoreless ninth by Ryan Madson for his fifth save - but the story of the night was a long-awaited late-game eruption by the offense.

"When you are a bench player, you are always ready," Orr said. "If you're not, you're not going to survive very long."

For more Phillies coverage and opinion, read David Murphy's blog, High Cheese, at www.philly.com/HighCheese.

Follow him on Twitter at

http://twitter.com/HighCheese.

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