Lineup puts Phils in position to win

Posted: July 26, 2012

The key factor behind the Phillies dramatic 7-6 victory over Brewers Tuesday night wasn't just the walks that Chase Utley and Ryan Howard drew against Manny Parra to load the bases. It was also the fact that the Milwaukee bullpen still had to deal with Carlos Ruiz and Hunter Pence, who earlier in the season might have been hitting No. 3 and No. 4, with a significant drop off behind them.

As Ruiz showed with his game-tying three-run double and Pence showed with his go-ahead bloop single, the Phillies suddenly have a real major league lineup again.

"That's big," manager Charlie Manuel said after he watched his team score six runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to seize a third straight dramatic victory. "You talk about Ruiz, you talk about the season he's having. He used to be our eighth hitter. It might be a while before he drops back down there.

Not only do the Phillies have their stars back, they have their role players back, which enables them to do role player things, like make diving catches in left field (John Mayberry Jr.) and hit two-run home runs (Erik Kratz) and score from first as a pinch-runner (Mike Fontenot), without the pressure of having to play above their skill set.

“You're going to see those guys that have been trying too hard, they're going to relax and we should get in a real tremendous frame of mind," Manuel said. "Our attitude should get better and we should play better."

POLANCO MRI: You can probably cross out Placido Polanco as a candidate to be traded. The veteran third baseman underwent an MRI on his ailing back on Tuesday, when he was sidelined for a second straight day. There was some thought that the Phillies might look to shed some of Polanco's salary, or acquire an uninspiring prospect, before the July 31 trade deadline. But the combination of his health and his lack of production at the plate likely rules out the possibility of the Phillies benefiting from any trade.

Either way, the position is one that will be a big question mark this offseason. With few obvious offensive upgrades available on the free agent market or in the system, the Phillies could have to rely on a low-cost defensive specialist while upgrading offensively at a position like left field.

"Third base is a position that has changed a little bit," Manuel said before Tuesday's game. "A prototype third baseman used to be a RBI guy, a guy that had a pretty good glove, arm, had some power and knocked in runs. They play smaller guys there now, good defensive players. A big prototype third baseman is hard to find."

PHILLERS: Manuel elected to go with John Mayberry Jr. over Juan Pierre or Laynce Nix against right-hander Zack Greinke. Mayberry's recent performance was the decisive factor: He entered the night 11-for-35 with two home runs, a double and two walks since the start of July. . .Utley and Howard both started their fifth consecutive games. . .C Brian Schneider began a rehab assignment at Class A Clearwater.

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