Phillies rally in ninth to beat Rockies

Carlos Ruiz lashes a pinch-hit double to drive home the tying run in the ninth inning.
Carlos Ruiz lashes a pinch-hit double to drive home the tying run in the ninth inning. (YONG KIM / Staff Photographer)
Posted: August 22, 2013

Carlos Ruiz raised his arms halfway between third and home. For one night, the Phillies were having fun, and Chase Utley pointed at the plate with his left hand as a reminder that Ruiz had to actually step on it to clinch a 4-3 victory Wednesday over Colorado on Michael Young's single.

"I see the guys on the bench," interim manager Ryne Sandberg said. "I see them at the top rail in the ninth inning. There is a lot of energy in the dugout."

"Deep down," Darin Ruf said, "every single one of us knew Michael was going to come through."

These are meaningless games, and difficult decisions loom. For now, there is comfort in improved play under Sandberg. The Phillies won at Citizens Bank Park with a ninth-inning comeback against another mediocre club. Erik Kratz and Ruiz smashed doubles. Young rapped the first pitch he saw deep to left for the game-winning hit.

Ruiz is a free agent at the end of the season. The Phillies are not blessed with many alternatives to their longtime catcher, who turns 35 in January. He can solidify his value if he continues to swing a hot bat. If change does not come at catcher, it can happen in the outfield, a capricious unit.

The outfielders showed promise in victory. Both corner men - Domonic Brown and Ruf - threw out runners. John Mayberry Jr. twice doubled and scored a run.

The Phillies have searched for an optimal outfield alignment ever since the day they traded two starters. They are playing a budding slugger who has a right-field arm in left. Their rightfielder had never played the position two weeks ago. Center field is a makeshift spot.

Roger Bernadina, another outfielder, signed Wednesday with the Phillies. The 29-year-old discard from Washington will play with the chance earn a job for 2014. There are few guarantees. Sandberg even hedged on Ben Revere's being the everyday centerfielder next season.

When Bernadina makes his first start, he will be the 19th different Phillie to start in the outfield since the start of 2012. That is tied for third-most in baseball, behind the Chicago Cubs (21 outfielders) and Houston Astros (20). Bernadina debuted as a pinch-hitter and flied to right.

"With the way things are set up here personnel-wise," Sandberg said, "he needs to look at that as an opportunity to show what he can do."

Bernadina was released Monday by the Nationals. He hit just .178 with a .517 OPS in 85 games. He started just 29 games, three of which were in center. He is regarded as a very capable defender. His best season was in 2012, when he batted .291 with an impressive .777 OPS.

Revere was the team's hottest hitter when he fractured his ankle in July. He was not as superior a defender in center as advertised by Phillies officials.

"I see Ben as an option in center field depending on what happens in the offseason," Sandberg said. "Ben could also be used in left field. That's another option for Ben."

Revere spent the majority of 2012 in right field for Minnesota. His offensive skill set does not match that of a prototypical corner outfielder.

Brown's does. He gunned down another runner, at home, for his eighth assist. Ruf is showing competency in right - he threw out his third runner in 13 games. Surprised? "A little bit," Ruf said, "I guess." The task will be maintaining that good impression.

The two corners could flip before the end of 2013, which would come as no shock. Nothing is sacrosanct in the Phillies outfield.

Contact Matt Gelb at Follow on Twitter @magelb.

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