"They played all 27 outs out," manager Charlie Manuel said after a 9-8 victory over Los Angeles. "That's the way you're supposed to play."
No amount of regular-season wins will suffice if the Phillies fail to win a championship, but it's days like this that the 2011 team should be remembered for. After three innings, the Dodgers jumped ahead, 6-0. By the middle of the sixth, the Phillies had overcome their biggest deficit of the season and captured a lead.
The Phillies boarded their cross-country charter flight home as baseball's best team, no different than 10 days ago when they began this West Coast jaunt. But they're even better now. As Ryan Howard said, "The potential is sky high."
They completed the best 10-game road trip in franchise history by winning nine times. They are a virtual lock to play this October. In 20 straight days with baseball, the Phillies went 16-4. On Thursday, they rest.
The only daunting task ahead is finding motivation for the 45 remaining games, the importance of which dwindles by the day.
"It's finally starting to come together a bit," Howard said. "The hitting has caught up to the pitching."
With one swing Wednesday, Howard changed the game. He homered to left, the ball barely landing past the light blue fence, to push the Phillies ahead, 9-7. Before his blast, Chase Utley tied the game with a two-run double, also to the opposite field. Those were the most crucial swings in a comeback staged by multiple heroes.
Hunter Pence, who must feel as if he has found baseball heaven, launched his third home run as a Phillie to commence the rally in the fourth inning. Pence has played 12 games since being traded from last-place Houston to Philadelphia. Eleven times, the Phillies have won.
Later in the fourth, Vance Worley singled through the middle to score a third run, and that's when Manuel first thought his team had a chance.
In reality, his Phillies hold favorable odds just about every day. They are winning at a 66 percent clip. Never before had a 10-game road trip gone as well as this. The last time they swept the Dodgers in Los Angeles was 1995.
Manuel praised his team. Then, never satisfied, he smirked before opening his mouth.
"We'll still striving to get that 10-0," Manuel said. This game is about excellence, isn't it?"
For once, this game did not feature extraordinary pitching. Worley exited after four innings. Kyle Kendrick allowed a run in the fifth.
But from there, the bullpen held. David Herndon tossed a five-pitch sixth. Brad Lidge created trouble that Antonio Bastardo exterminated. Bastardo retired all five batters he faced as the bridge to Ryan Madson, who notched his 22d save of the season. (But not before allowing a run and some tense moments.)
Even then, Manuel could be proud, and that he was. But there was little time to bask. Manuel leaned back in his seat and barked at the visitors in his office to scram.
"Gotta get dressed," Manuel yelled. "Gotta go to Philly, son!"
Contact staff writer Matt Gelb at firstname.lastname@example.org or @magelb on Twitter.