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Phils explode in ninth to down Marlins


Phils explode in ninth to down Marlins
MIAMI - Yesterday afternoon, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel was asked if he would consider moving Shane Victorino down in the batting order. The team's No. 2 hitter had a .323 on-base percentage, after all, and the Phils were not scoring enough runs.

But Manuel shook his head and said no, Victorino would resolve his issues and did not need a demotion. Less than six hours later, the centerfielder hit his first career regular-season grand slam in the ninth inning, giving the Phillies their first lead of the night and redeeming a previously listless game. Chase Utley followed with a homer, and the Phillies defeated Florida, 7-3.

quot;Smoked it,quot; Manuel said after the game, leaning back in a chair behind his desk and smiling. quot;Put a good swing on it.quot;

The Phillies tasted their initial competition last night against the division rival Marlins, and showed late resilience after being shut out for 81/3 innings. The Phils have scored nine runs in their last three games, and all have come in the ninth inning.

For most of the game, the offense did nothing against Marlins starter Josh Johnson, who three-hit the Phils over seven innings.

They did not get a runner to third base until the fifth inning, and Pedro Feliz hardly earned his way there; he struck out but reached first on a wild pitch, second on a passed ball and third on a groundout. He was rendered irrelevant when Jimmy Rollins grounded out to end the inning, and the Phils did not score until their seven-run ninth.

The win was an early-season statement against Florida. The Marlins' success, whether or not it proves lasting, has underscored the intensifying competition in the National League East.

Brett Myers began the game by walking Marlins leadoff hitter Emilio Bonifacio on four pitches, though he picked Bonifacio off first base during the next at-bat. But the pitcher surrendered a two-out, three-run homer to Dan Uggla four batters later. The hanging change-up delivered to Uggla reinforced two concerns for Myers: home runs and shaky first innings. Myers has now allowed eight homers in 252/3 innings.

He rebounded to labor through six inefficient innings (only 62 of his 119 pitches were strikes), but managed to allow no runs after the homer.

quot;Myers battled,quot; Manuel said. quot;Myers stayed in there. Myers made pitches when he had to. When he was in trouble, he kept wiggling out of it.quot;

After the win, Myers was excited, but still fixated on the home run. quot;I thought I'd fool him with a 3-2 change-up,quot; he said. quot;It didn't. It didn't fool him. My ball was moving all over the place, it was tough to control it.quot;

But as Myers watched the ninth inning on television in the locker room, disappointment turned to relief. His team had avoided a third straight loss after nearly being shut out and was able to fend off questions about their April inconsistency for at least another day.

Contact staff writer Andy Martino at 215-854-4874 or amartino@phillynews.com.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 25, 2009

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