After falling behind 4-2 following a four-run fifth by Atlanta, the Phils scored three unanswered and beat the Braves 5-4.
Tonight wasn’t as spotless as the last two games, but it was every bit as satisfying.
After the game fell apart for Gavin Floyd in the fifth, the Braves were in perfect shape to pour it on. Instead, the Phils answered right back in bottom half with a two-out double by Jimmy Rollins, extending his hitting streak to 19 games, followed by RBIs from Kenny Lofton and Chase Utley. Next inning, Mike Lieberthal drove in the go-ahead run with a two-out single that scored Ryan Howard from second.
The Phils have really piled on the extra base hits lately. Since I reported on their league-worst 340 XBHs back on Aug. 23, they’ve climbed six spots to 10th with 406. That’s a whole lot of extra-baggers in a short amount of time.
A shortage of XBHs, top to bottom, is the real reason they couldn't put runs on the board in July and August, not lineup construction. They added six more to their rising total tonight, including a triple from Lofton and a homer by Howard, his 17th of the season.
Before the night was over, Chase Utley drove in two runs, and before he was pulled for Jason “Not Enough Plate Appearances to Qualify” Michaels, Lofton finished 3-for-3 and scored twice.
Floyd worked five shaky innings and gave up all his runs in one frame. He was lucky not to have given up more. The rookie didn't look too sure of himself, and I was glad to see the fifth inning finally end and Shane Victorino take his spot in the lineup. It looked like young Gavin was glad the night was over, too.
Aaron Fultz came in and pitched a perfect sixth for the win. This …
4-0, 2.25 ERA, 49 K, 22 BB
… is unbelievable production from a guy who was plucked off the scrap heap.
It's hard to believe he had an ERA over 5.00 last season, and was added because they needed a spare left-hander in the pen.
With the win, the ex-Twin continues to be the surprise story of the bullpen, making a strong case as their most effective arm next to Billy Wagner.
As for the three musketeers, Ryan Madson, Ugueth Urbina and Wagner did it once again, shuting down the Bravos in the seventh, eighth and ninth. For Wagner, he collected his 34th save.
Man of the game
My choice came down to Fultz, Lofton, Rollins, Lieberthal (for the game-winning hit and a timely bullet behind the dish that caught Rafael Furcal stealing second), and my eventual choice, third base coach Bill Dancy, who had the best game of his major league coaching career.
Dancy gave the green light to Lofton and Ryan Howard, both called safe on close plays at home. The veteran baseball man has had his share of critics this season, but for one night, he got everything right.
Come to think of it, lately, the whole team is getting it right.