Phillies outlast Cardinals in 11 innings

Posted: August 13, 2012

Silver linings and gray hairs have a lot in common. You never really want to be looking for either one, but sometimes that's all you have, so you pull them out and examine them.

In this, the season of mounting losses and unmet expectations, the Phillies have found their silver linings from some guys who were not even here at the beginning of the year.

One of them came through with a game-tying home run Sunday afternoon, and the other picked up his first major-league victory as the Phillies finished a nine-game homestand with an 8-7, 11-inning victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.

Catcher Erik Kratz provided the tying home run, a three-run, flower-bed shot off Cardinals reliever Mitchell Boggs with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning.

Reliever Jeremy Horst picked up his first win by throwing two scoreless innings before Juan Pierre, a gold star in this gloomy season, beat out an infield single to shortstop Rafael Furcal that accounted for the winning run.

"Just battling," Pierre said in summarizing his game-winning hit. "I didn't have a particularly good day at the plate. Against the lefty [Barret Browning], I just went old-school Wiffle ball on him. I didn't feel good all day, but one thing you can do every day is fight."

Horst was the first player out of the dugout to greet Pierre, lifting the leftfielder off his feet as the postgame celebration began in short right field.

"It was awesome," Horst said. "I've been waiting for this since I was a little kid. Getting that win is a personal achievement. Getting to the big leagues is one thing, but then getting a major-league win under your name, I felt like I worked hard and I got it."

Kratz's home run, which came off a 97-m.p.h. fastball from Boggs, was his fifth in 45 at-bats this season. He also has six doubles among his 15 hits. That's the kind of power a manager likes to see from his backup catcher. It's the kind of power a manager also likes to see from his starting catcher, which is the job Kratz has earned ahead of Brian Schneider with Carlos Ruiz on the disabled list.

"Kratz is one of those guys who is big and strong," manager Charlie Manuel said. "He's in tremendous shape. He definitely is a hard worker. He is durable. You can treat him tough. That's a part I like about him. The other part I like is that he's definitely capable of hitting a homer."

Kratz, 32, had 40 career big-league at-bats in 10 professional seasons before this year, so this has been his first prolonged look at the highest level. He is trying to narrow his focus and forget about what this could mean in the long run.

"To think too far ahead and to think past tomorrow's pitcher or tomorrow's start for Cole [Hamels], it's hard to do because you're going to miss out on things and put the cart in front of the horse," Kratz said.

Horst, acquired in the offseason deal that sent Wilson Valdez to Cincinnati, may have picked up his first victory against the Cardinals, but he also has posted a 1.13 earned run average in 15 appearances. He has allowed just two earned runs and struck out 18 batters in 16 innings.

"I feel like I'm the same pitcher every time I go out there," Horst said. "At least I try to be. I just want to go out and keep the game where it's at and attack hitters. The opportunities are going to come as long as you stay the same pitcher, and consistency is huge up here. As long as I can keep showing them that, I'm going to get more opportunities, which is what everybody wants."

Add third baseman Kevin Frandsen and relievers Raul Valdes and Michael Schwimer to the list of guys who have shown promise since being recalled from triple-A Lehigh Valley this season and, well, that's something for a team that was expecting a lot more.

"I like to put them out there and let them play, and not really say a whole lot about it," Manuel said. "You know, this is definitely a good time for them to get to play and show what they can do. And, yeah, what they do definitely plays into what we think and what we want to do going forward and how we're going to select our team next year."

Contact Bob Brookover at Follow @brookob on Twitter.

comments powered by Disqus