Freddy Galvis, Erik Kratz save the day for Phillies

DAVID MAIALETTI / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Cliff Lee is caught in a rundown after being picked off in the ninth.
DAVID MAIALETTI / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Cliff Lee is caught in a rundown after being picked off in the ninth.
Posted: May 21, 2013

WHEN YOU are scuffling, there is no such thing as a little mistake. Domonic Brown's sixth-inning throw to first is misplayed into an eventual unearned run . . . Cliff Lee's ninth-inning baserunning gaffe gives dominant Cincinnati Reds closer Aroldis Chapman a two-out save opportunity . . . and there you are again yesterday, tortured, angered, ready to swear off the local nine for maybe the 10th time just in the last month.

Why didn't Charlie Manuel use an everyday player to run instead of a pitcher? Why didn't Michael Young come off the bag at first to catch Brown's attempt to double up Joey Votto? When your team has scored two or fewer runs in 17 of its 44 games this season, little plays are huge plays, and there is no such thing as a small move.

"Everyone calls it momentum," Erik Kratz said after he and Freddy Galvis dramatically rescued the Phillies with back-to-back ninth-inning home runs in yesterday's 3-2 victory. "A swing in luck - I don't believe in that because we're out here working hard every day. But when it doesn't go well and you're hitting the ball hard and it keeps finding their glove, keeps finding diving guys in the infield or keeps hitting off players and still getting guys out, it's unfortunate.

"But we stayed with our approach. And sometimes that can be frustrating to watch. You stay with an approach that's not working people say, 'Change it.' But we think, 'Hey, we're hitting the ball hard.' "

There was some truth to that yesterday. The Phillies finished with nine hits, including four over the last two innings against a bullpen that entered the weekend among the league's best. At least a half-dozen of their outs were well-hit, just not well-placed. Ben Revere, in particular, with three of those hits, looked like a different player after 6 days off to clear his head.

And yet there they were again, with one run to show for it all after eight innings, facing a reliever who had retired all six Phillies he had faced this season before walking Delmon Young to begin the ninth.

In came Lee to run for Young. In stepped Kratz, playing after Carlos Ruiz strained a hamstring running the bases in the second inning. And then, another one of those inopportune mistakes that have become magnified by the Phillies' punchless offense this season. Chapman caught Lee leaning, and the tying run was no longer on base.

"Brutal," said Lee. As for whether he thought he should be pinch-running in that situation, he said, "I feel like I should be able to play fundamental baseball. That was the opposite of that. I felt horrible."

Two pitches later, Lee felt . . . well, worse, kind of. "I've never been so disappointed when a guy hit a home run to tie the game," he said.

Three pitches after that, the smallish Galvis grabbed a 1-1, 95 mph fastball and yanked it a few yards inside the leftfield flagpole for his first walkoff home run at any level. As the Reds trudged solemnly toward the visitors' dugout, he raced the bases, slowing only when he saw the large mass of humanity in Phillies uniforms waiting to beat on him at the plate.

"I had a big smile," he said. "And then I'm thinking, 'I've got to fight for my life.' "

And Lee? Over five pitches, his emotions ranged from horrible to disappointed to "the best feeling I've had in a while."

The temptation is to make too much of those feelings, to see yesterday as a watershed event. It's a bit of a reach, especially when the key integers to the win are totaled up: home runs from two backups, an opposite-field RBI bloop from Chase Utley, the speed of Revere, a strong outing from call-up Jonathan Pettibone, and two scoreless innings from the much-maligned bullpen.

Ryan Howard didn't play and will have a knee MRI today. Chooch strained a hammy. Brown, Jimmy Rollins and even Michael Young went hitless.

But as Kratz said, momentum is hard to define and even harder to identify.

"You're shut out yesterday, we're hitting the ball hard and we're getting shut out again," he said. "A lot of times when that happens, you're changing your approach because there's a woe-is-me factor . . . We could have sat there and said, 'Oh, Cliff got picked off, now what?'

"We didn't do that. I know I didn't and I know Freddy didn't and . . . it's a huge boost for us, that's for sure."

For sure? The Phillies made it through a stretch of 12 games against upper-division teams with a 7-5 record. A three-game series at Miami begins tonight, before another 10-game stretch against potential playoff teams.

"The way I look at it, you can always improve on a win," manager Charlie Manuel said. "Losing sometimes creates a different story. Any time you win when you've made mistakes, it's easier to talk about and easier to correct.

"Today's game was definitely a pick-me-up. Gives us a nice little ride to Florida, too."

Today on PhillyDailyNews.com : On the DNL blog, Rich Hofmann writes about how the Phillies continue to flirt with historical offensive lousiness.


On Twitter: @samdonnellon

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