Phillies defeat Orioles, 9-6

Jim Thome and Hunter Pence (right) are welcomed at the plate by Carlos Ruiz after they scored on a double by Shane Victorino in the second inning. Ruiz brought Victorino home with a single.
Jim Thome and Hunter Pence (right) are welcomed at the plate by Carlos Ruiz after they scored on a double by Shane Victorino in the second inning. Ruiz brought Victorino home with a single. (NICK WASS / Associated Press)
Posted: June 09, 2012

BALTIMORE - Each player in the parade of happy Phillies streaming into the dugout Friday shook Charlie Manuel's right hand. The manager stood on the top step for the majority of a 9-6 victory over the first-place Baltimore Orioles to end a six-game losing streak and must have wondered if his message was received.

A day earlier, he issued the ultimate slap to the face for a bunch of underachieving millionaires, saying they "scared nobody." Asked Friday before the victory what effect that can have on a person, Manuel turned serious.

"I would be mad," Manuel said, "but I would be mad at myself."

So a group of 25 men beaten verbally and physically over the last week answered their manager's challenge with an offensive barrage at Camden Yards in the game's first four innings.

Manuel batted Jim Thome, a likely future Hall of Famer with all of two hits in 2012, fourth. "He's still got something in him," Manuel said before the game. Indeed, three Thome hits and two runs scored made Manuel look quite shrewd.

Shane Victorino equaled a career-high with five RBIs. Mike Fontenot crushed an opposite-field home run (seriously), and Joe Blanton survived 62/3 repulsive innings. There was enough to like from the Phillies after innings and innings of ineptitude.

The Phillies began Friday with their worst record through 59 games since 2002, when a Larry Bowa-managed team started 25-34 and finished 80-81.

"People are acting like the world is going to come to an end," Manuel said. "It's not going to come to an end."

This was not easy. Manuel had closer Jonathan Papelbon warming in the eighth inning of a three-run game because he couldn't be too sure on a night when the Phillies desperately needed to taste victory. But Antonio Bastardo struck out the side in the eighth around a walk. Twenty of his last 34 recorded outs have been strikeouts.

Papelbon, pitching in this city for the first time since authoring the final failure in an epic Boston collapse, earned his 16th save.

It was easy to foresee a slugfest with Blanton and Jake Arrieta on the mound. Since May 10, Blanton had an 8.44 ERA and Arrieta was pitching at a 7.82 clip. Those were two of baseball's three worst ERAs in that span.

Arrieta was pummeled for nine runs and 11 hits, both career highs. Blanton was not much better. He allowed five earned runs for the fifth straight start. If he does it again in his next start, he will tie Calvin Maduro's modern-era franchise record.

Granted, Michael Schwimer offered no help. The fifth run charged to Blanton scored only when Schwimer served a two-run home run to J.J. Hardy in the seventh. Blanton could not finish the inning because he reached 115 pitches. Making it that far was no small feat.

Manuel's lineup, and specifically Thome, rewarded his faith. Thome entered Friday 2 for 20 on the season amid questions of his future. The 41-year-old had struck out 11 times in those 20 at-bats and appeared painfully aged.

"He can still hit one," Manuel said before the game. "He might hit that warehouse tonight."

The first ball he hit did not travel over the right-field wall, let alone reach the infield dirt. But it went for an infield single, and that allowed Victorino to bat with two runners on base in the first inning. He singled home the first run for a Phillies lead they would never relinquish.

Thome barely missed that homer in the second inning when he crushed a double to the warning track in right-center. Victorino delivered again, with a two-run double. The Phillies sent 10 men to the plate in the second and scored six runs on six hits.

During that rally, Juan Pierre tripled and scored on Victorino's double. It was the 1,000th run of his career, making him the 30th player in baseball history with 1,000 runs, 2,000 hits, and 500 stolen bases.

In the fourth, Thome doubled again, this time with two outs. And Victorino stroked an Arrieta slider into the right-field bleachers. It was but one of the swings Friday that scared the opposition.

Galvis' back fractured. Infielder Freddy Galvis has a pars fracture in his back, and he may need to spend six weeks in a brace.


Contact Matt Gelb at mgelb@phillynews.com or follow on Twitter @magelb.

 

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