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Slam Out of a Jam


Slam Out of a Jam
That wasn't the sound of boos coming from Citizens Bank Park in the bottom of the eighth inning last night. It was the sound of 41,620 Phillies fans shouting the name of their new favorite player.

Rauuuuuul! Raul Ibanez, the team's new leftfielder, hit a grand slam with two outs in the eighth to help the Phils beat the Washington Nationals, 13-11.

It was a wild game and a fist-pumping win. But when it was over, manager Charlie Manuel revealed some bad news that the team had been sitting on for a week: All-star closer Brad Lidge is experiencing swelling in his right knee. An MRI exam last week showed no structural damage, but Lidge was unavailable last night. Ryan Madson got the save in his place.

quot;I'm concerned on a small level because it's not feeling great,quot; said Lidge, who spoke to reporters with an ice pack on his knee. quot;But at the same time, I think it's something we can treat and nip in the bud. We'll take it day by day. Hopefully we can treat it and avoid the disabled list.quot;

Lidge has had surgery to repair cartilage injuries twice on his right knee.

quot;The MRI showed a fluid buildup and some swelling, but no tears,quot; he said.

Lidge's brethren on the pitching staff have struggled to keep the ball in the yard this season. Phillies pitchers gave up five homers last night and have allowed 39, most in the majors, in 18 games. Two of those homers (both two-run shots) came in the top of the eighth against Scott Eyre as the Nationals broke a 7-7 tie to take an 11-7 lead.

Nick Johnson hit the first homer and Adam Dunn the second. Both were preceded by walks and followed by boos.

The boos turned to cheers in the bottom of the eighth when the Phils rallied for six runs. Ibanez keyed the rally with his first-pitch grand slam off Joel Hanrahan and the crowd erupted.

quot;I'm definitely appreciative of that,quot; Ibanez said of the crowd's reaction. quot;My feet barely hit the ground when I ran back to the outfield. I was floating.quot;

Signed as a free agent to replace popular Pat Burrell, Ibanez has six homers and 16 RBIs in 18 games.

The win was the Phils' 10th, and nine have been come-from-behind efforts. The Phils have scored 55 runs from the seventh inning on - the most in the majors.

quot;This club never gives in and I feel blessed to be part of it.quot; Ibanez said.

Ryan Howard also hit a grand slam. In all, seven home runs were hit by the two clubs. Phils starter Joe Blanton gave up three, including two to Ryan Zimmerman.

Blanton allowed just 10 home runs in 13 starts for the Phillies last season. He has allowed six in four starts this season while his ERA has risen to 8.41.

None of the Nats' five home runs were cheapies. Two of them reached the second deck, one landed on Ashburn Alley and another hit the ivy on the batter's eye in dead center.

quot;It looks like we're throwing too many balls on the good part of the plate,quot; Manuel said. quot;When balls are hit that far, it shows the hitters are swinging freely at them.quot;

Contact staff writer Jim Salisbury at 215-854-4983 or jsalisbury@phillynews.com.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 28, 2009

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