Friday, July 5, 2013

PHILLIES: Phils win key series opener 5-4

July 5, 2013

Box Score (From

By Zach Geibler

Going into the three-game weekend series with the Braves, the Phillies may have been holding their heads high, having just beaten what may have been the best team in the Majors in the Pittsburgh Pirates.

This was good accolade and a great confidence boost to the struggling Phillies.  The momentum was now needed in a big homestand that could possibly (once again) save the season. 

Fridays pitching match-up was one in the Phillies favor, with their most dominant and consistent pitcher of the year: Cliff Lee. He was on the mound against Paul Maholm of the Braves.

The Phillies started off the game swinging, and took advantage of the hot weather to carry balls deeper.  

The Phillies scored four runs in the first three innings, with home runs from Ryan Howard (his 11th of the season) and an unlikely bomber Humberto Quintero, who hit a two-run home run, which was followed by a review.

After the quick lead, Cliff Lee dominated the Braves for six innings of shutout baseball. The Phillies, with one more run in the sixth from Quintero, looked to be coasting to victory with a 5-0 lead and their best pitcher doing his thing.

But then, the summer heat caught up to Cliff Lee. 

He began to load the bases up in the seventh inning and, before too long, Dan Uggla hit a three-run bomb to left-center. 

After a discussion with manager Charlie Manuel, Lee stayed in the game only to surrender another hit.  

J.C. Ramirez, the young reliever was called on to finish off the seventh inning. After giving up the last of Cliff Lee’s runs and closing the books on the starter, Ramirez struck out B.J. Upton to end the inning.

The last two innings landed no insurance runs for the Phillies and the bullpen had a tight lead to hold, which has not been a specialty for the young arms this year. 

But with a solid eighth inning from Antonio Bastardo, the Phillies were able to, once again, get to their closer Jonathan Papelbon.

Papelbon, who had a shaky week, but was coming off two saves in a row, mowed down the Braves in four at-bats. He had a little help from the glove work of John Mayberry Jr. in right field to earn his 18th save of the year.

The win brings the Phillies record to 42-45, putting them 7.5 games back behind the Braves in the National League East.  

The win also made Cliff Lee a 10-game winner for the first time since 2011.

The Phillies win the first of, what may go on to be, the most important series of the year against the Braves and the most important homestand of the year. 

The Phillies will have two more games against the Braves, then a four-game series against the Washington Nationals. They will wrap up the homestand with a three-game series against the White Sox before the All-Star break.

It is safe to say that this first win was a must win and the Phillies did not disappoint. The next nine games will be watched very closely by players, fans and executives alike. 

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