At the center of it all was Hunter Pence, whose two-run single with the bases loaded and two out in the eighth inning pushed home the tying and go-ahead runs. Two innings earlier, the rightfielder had watched Matt Kemp throw out Ryan Howard at home on what would have been a game-tying single, home-plate umpire Wally Bell ruling that catcher A.J. Ellis had applied the tag before the diving slugger's hand touched home. All of this came after a second inning in which a little bit of heady baserunning on Pence's part likely would have enabled the Phillies to add another run to their 1-0 lead (on first base with one out, he got a poor jump on a single to right field by Juan Pierre, then opted against heading for third).
This time, though, the missed opportunities did not prove fatal. Antonio Bastardo struck out Dodgers star Andre Ethier after falling behind 3-1 to end the eighth inning with the tying run on first base, while Jonathan Papelbon took care of the ninth inning for his 21st save. In the top half of that frame, Chase Utley worked a two-out walk, then watched as Ronald Belisario hit Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz with pitches to load the bases. The Dodgers called on closer Kenley Jansen, who threw three straight pitches out of the zone before Pence connected on a 2-1 cutter for a ground ball up the middle that gave the Phillies the lead. They entered the night 0-38 in games in which they entered the eighth inning with a deficit.
There were other positive signs to go with the performances of Pence, Papelbon and Bastardo.
Chief among them, ace Roy Halladay returned to the mound for the first time in 7 weeks and held the Dodgers to two runs on five hits with six strikeouts and no walks in five innings. Michael Schwimer, Jeremy Horst and Kyle Kendrick combined to log 2?2/3 scoreless innings of relief.
That being said, Wednesday will be a huge test as the Phillies square off against defending NL Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw. Tuesday, they managed only one run on four hits in six innings against Stephen Fife, a recs-specs-wearing rookie making his major league debut. They also faced rookie starters in Monday's win over the Dodgers and Sunday's win over the Rockies.
For now, though, they will take a four-game winning streak, and a 41-51 record, and the chance to live another day.
Contact David Murphy at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @HighCheese. For more Phillies coverage and opinion, read his blog at www.philly.com/HighCheese.