Phillies rally to win as Sandberg returns to Wrigley

Despite his new uniform, former Cubs star Ryne Sandberg received a standing ovation.       Getty Images
Despite his new uniform, former Cubs star Ryne Sandberg received a standing ovation.       Getty Images
Posted: September 01, 2013

CHICAGO - Two former stars took center stage on Friday afternoon at the National League's oldest ballpark.

Ryne Sandberg, the Phillies interim manager who spent most of his Hall of Fame career thrilling the masses at Wrigley Field, returned home and received the red-carpet treatment seldom afforded an opposing figure here.

Most in the crowd stood and applauded as Sandberg, in a road gray Phillies uniform with that familiar No. 23, emerged from the visiting dugout to exchange his lineup card at home plate. He tipped his cap in appreciation and informed the umpires that he knew the ground rules well enough to recite them.

It was the beginning of a special and somewhat odd day that ended with the Phillies and their manager celebrating a come-from-behind 6-5 victory over the last-place Chicago Cubs.

"It's a good one to have," Sandberg said. "It was 5-0 out of the chute, our guys battled back, and we had good energy after that. Any time you rally to come back like that, it goes a long way with the guys. But, yeah, it was special."

It was the Phillies' fifth win in their final at-bat since Sandberg replaced Charlie Manuel as manager. The team is 9-6 in his 15 games.

The day was special for everyone except Roy Halladay, the other former star on center stage.

After picking up a victory in his return from shoulder surgery Sunday at Citizens Bank Park, the two-time Cy Young Award winner showed just how far he still has to go in order to be a quality big-league pitcher worth keeping around.

On the kind of sweltering hot day that has been kryptonite to Halladay in the past, the veteran righthander allowed five runs in five innings and departed with all sort of red marks on his final pitching line. He hit two batters, walked two, allowed two home runs, and threw a wild pitch.

Sandberg conceded that it is difficult to watch a pitcher of Halladay's caliber struggle so mightily.

"But you still see the characteristics," Sandberg said. "You see a gamer, a battler, a guy who is vocal when he is not pitching. He is a leader with the guys. You just hope some arm strength and a little bit of the velocity can pick up."

Halladay, a leading candidate for an antiperspirant commercial, said sweat was the opponent he could not overcome.

"The only factor I had was that later in the game just all the sweat was kind of tough and the ball was slipping more than it had early on," Halladay said. "The shoulder felt good, nothing there. I didn't feel tired and I didn't pass out like I did last time" at Wrigley Field.

The Cubs scored four runs in the fourth and fifth innings off Halladay. Nate Schierholtz hit a homer to lead off the fourth. Donnie Murphy followed with a double that centerfielder Roger Bernadina lost in the sun and led to more trouble for Halladay. Still, Halladay's problems were more about a lack of command and a lack of velocity than a lack of good fortune.

"I feel good each time out and that's a bonus," Halladay said. "I don't want to feel like I'm going backward with how my arm feels at any point. . . . My shoulder hasn't given me any problems, and if that continues I feel like I can continue to improve."

The best thing Halladay did Friday was surrender his spot in the batting order to pinch-hitter Kevin Frandsen at the start of the sixth inning. Frandsen, 6 for 59 in his previous 26 games, came through with a leadoff triple against Cubs righthander Jeff Samardzija, who had allowed two hits through the first five innings.

Frandsen's hit triggered a four-run inning that included a two-run triple by Chase Utley, and the Phillies were suddenly within a run. Frandsen evened the game in the seventh with a home run off the hard-throwing Samardzija and the Phillies took the lead in the ninth on a bloop single by Michael Young, who finished with four hits.

"Just to come up big like that for Ryno, especially here, it's a pretty good feeling," Frandsen said.


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

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