Jul 23, 2011, 7:30 PM EDT
The temperature was hot once again, but the Phils’ bats were hotter. (Well… maybe not.) Chase Utley and Michael Martinez each scorched three-run blasts, while Utley and Ryan Howard added solo shots to account for all eight of the Fightins’ runs in a Saturday afternoon victory over the Padres.
Utley kicked things off in the first inning against Mat Latos, going the opposite way to give the good guys an early 3-0 lead. That would hold until the bottom of the sixth, when Kyle Kendrick seemed to tire and gave up a couple of dingers himself to even the tally. San Diego would pull ahead 4-3 against Michael Stutes in the next frame, but they would not be ahead for long.
Ryan Howard came off the bench to pinch hit in the seventh, and with one pitch, the game was tied again. The Big Piece took Padres reliever Chad Qualls over the wall to centerfield, the slugger’s first home run since before the All Star break. Say what you want about the 2006 NL MVP, but Howard still has the ability to change a game that quickly.
The troubles wouldn’t end there for Qualls. Ross Gload ripped the very next delivery down the rightfield line for a double, then Jimmy Rollins walked. That set up Martinez, who caught a break after a couple of failed bunt attempts when a wild pitch advanced the runners for him. Behind in the count, Martinez caught a fast ball down the middle, and drove it out of the ballpark to put his club back on top by three. That proved to be the game’s decisive swing.
The Phillies’ do-it-all Rule 5 draft pick has improved as of late, especially over the last two weeks, likely in part due to his playing more regularly. It was Martinez’s second career homer, and uncannily reminiscent to the one he smoked at Citi Field to beat the Mets last week. He’s even been steady defensively over at the hot corner.
On the following at bat, Utley went deep for his second of the game, sixth this season.
The Phillies’ pitchers would once again make this game interesting, but managed to hold on. Antonio Bastardo put some runners on in the eighth, then got wild, giving a run away on a wild pitch. David Herndon replaced him and walked across another–though those were some close pitches–but he was able to notch the final out of the inning.
Ryan Madson closed out the ninth, and kept the scares to a minimum. A two-out double brought the tying run to the plate, but Mad Dog disposed of Kyle Blanks to pick up the 8-6 victory, and his 17th save of the season.
The Phillies will take a crack at their ninth consecutive series win tomorrow, as the Doc will be in the house to take on his arch-nemesis–heat exhaustion.
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