Phillies' bullpen seals victory over Pirates

Ryan Howard beats the tag by Pittsburgh's Russell Martin to score on a sixth-inning double by Delmon Young.
Ryan Howard beats the tag by Pittsburgh's Russell Martin to score on a sixth-inning double by Delmon Young. (JUSTIN K. ALLER / Getty Images)
Posted: July 04, 2013

PITTSBURGH - It has been a long time since the Phillies had Pirates envy.

Pittsburgh's last winning baseball season - 1992 - turned 21 this year, and when a team strings together that many clunkers, it can drive fans to drink.

Halfway through the season, however, the PNC Park patrons are overcome with joy about a Pirates team that entered this three-game series against the Phillies with a nine-game winning streak and the best record in baseball.

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel has been impressed with the Bucs, particularly their bullpen.

"I see good pitching and young players who play hard," Manuel said before his team pulled out a 3-1 win on Tuesday. "They play a lot of one-run games, extra-inning games, and it seems like they win every one of them. That's a sign of a bullpen holding people. The starting pitching is good, but the bullpen stands out."

As it turned out, the Phillies' patchwork bullpen was charged with holding back the Pirates after Jonathan Pettibone handed the ball over with two outs and a two-run lead in the bottom of the sixth inning.

It took six of Manuel's seven relievers to get the final 10 outs, but the Phillies escaped with a victory that allowed them to even their record at 4-4 on this 10-game road trip.

"I used them all, didn't I?" Manuel said afterward. "Whatever it takes. We got it done, but it was kind of hard to watch."

Rookie righthander Brandon Cumpton, making just his third big-league start, held the Phillies scoreless on two hits through five innings, but cracked in the sixth.

Ryan Howard, hitless on the trip as he stepped to the plate with one out and two on in the sixth, delivered an RBI single for the game's first run.

Domonic Brown followed with a sacrifice fly, and Howard scored from first base on an RBI double by Delmon Young to make it 3-0.

Howard, dogged by a sore left knee the entire season and given two days off in the middle of the trip, admitted to being sore afterward. Still, he was happy to have two hits and an RBI.

"It felt good to get out there and get a knock," he said. "It felt good to get out there and run around a bit."

Pettibone (4-3) held the Pirates scoreless through five and appeared as if he would get through the sixth as well when he induced a double-play grounder from the dangerous Andrew McCutchen. Garrett Jones, however, followed with his eighth home run of the season, and Manuel decided to turn the game over to the bullpen with the worst earned run average in the National League.

"We definitely need some of our kids to come [along] quick in our bullpen, I will say that," he said before the game. "More than one."

The quartet of Jake Diekman, Phillippe Aumont, J.C. Ramirez, and Antonio Bastardo allowed six of the 11 batters they faced to reach base via a hit or a walk.

None of them was charged with a run.

Justin De Fratus, after being saddled with three of the four losses on the West Coast portion of this trip, was given a chance for redemption when he entered the game in the eighth inning with the bases loaded and two outs.

He responded with a five-pitch strikeout of Jordy Mercer and left the mound with an emotional fist pump.

"Here's a chance to redeem yourself," De Fratus said when asked about his thoughts as he entered from the bullpen. "I've been in that situation before and . . . when you failed before and you've felt that feeling, there's nothing to be afraid of anymore. It's unfortunate that you do have to fail to learn that lesson, but I didn't die. So there's nothing to be worried about out there. You just go out there and throw the ball over the plate as hard as you can and let's go."

Jonathan Papelbon made sure there was no chaos in the ninth, retiring the side in order for his 16th save.


Contact Bob Brookover at bbrookover@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @brookob.

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