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Phils walk off to win


Phils walk off to win
With two out in the eighth inning of the Phillies' 6-5 win yesterday, New York's Carlos Beltran singled to right field. Omir Santos rushed home from second, ready to break a 5-5 tie and give the Mets a late lead.

But Jayson Werth fielded the ball and fired it to Carlos Ruiz, standing several feet down the third base line. Ruiz, the sterling defensive catcher activated just hours earlier from the disabled list, applied the tag and pumped his fist. Werth and pitcher Ryan Madson did the same.

Two innings later, when Shane Victorino drew a bases-loaded walk to win the game, the Phillies had found another route to a come-from-behind victory. They have trailed in 10 of their 12 wins. While walk-off hits dominate headlines and inspire platitudes, the Phils' defense has quietly enabled them to keep games close and allow for comebacks. Yesterday's win was a striking example.

"Defense wins championships, as they say," said Werth. "Today was another test of that."

"We play good defense," said starter Jamie Moyer, who did not halt the Phillies' string of inconsistent starting pitching. He earned a no-decision after allowing five runs and walking five in 52/3 innings. "It's important, especially in a ballpark like this. I don't want to say a rut, but the phase we're going through right now, where there's a lot of walking . . . But when you're playing good defense, the double play can be your best friend. . . . The defense can help carry a club."

Last season, the Phillies' defense was the best in Baseball, according to John Dewan's influential book, The Fielding Bible. This year, that facet of the club has assumed increased importance, helping to prevent shaky starting pitching from sinking the team. The Phils' .995 fielding percentage is the best in either league.

In addition to the Werth-Ruiz play that kept yesterday's game tied, third baseman Pedro Feliz caught a sizzling Jose Reyes line drive to lead off the sixth. Had the ball eluded Feliz, who was standing on the infield grass, the speedy Reyes could well have begun the inning at third base. And in the 10th, Feliz and second baseman Eric Bruntlett turned a sharp one-out double play on Beltran with two runners on, rescuing reliever Jack Taschner.

The Phillies' comeback provided a striking contrast to the division-rival Mets, who are 10-13. New York is 1-9 when trailing after six innings this year, and 0-10 when trailing after seven. The largest deficit they have overcome is two runs.

"We've got a lot of guys who play good under pressure," said Werth. "Some guys are just built that way."

Victorino agreed, but could not identify a reason.

"It's just one of those things where you find a way to win," he said, shrugging.

The Phillies have done just that during the first month of their season, and the Mets have not.

Contact staff writer Andy Martino at 215-854-4874

or amartino@phillynews.com.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: May 3, 2009

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