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Welcome home, Raul

Welcome home, Raul
Raul Ibanez officially became a Phillie on Dec. 16, 2008, when he signed with the club as a free agent.

He was finally baptized on Sunday.

The left fielder drilled a 2-0 pitch into the right-field seats in the ninth inning to give the Phillies a 5-4 come-from-behind victory over the San Diego Padres at Citizens Bank Park.

As Ibanez was giving his postgame interview on the field, he was greeted with a shaving cream pie, his first in pin stripes. He still had some remnants on his ears in the clubhouse.

"They got me good," he said. "I was not ready for it. After a game like that, I don't really care what they put in there. They can spit in it and I'll take it."

It was Ibanez's fourth career walk-off home run and the first of the 2009 season for Philadelphia, which had been 0-5 when trailing after eight innings.

While many fans are getting their first real look at the lifetime American Leaguer, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel liked him from the first time he saw him and found himself following his career with Kansas City and Seattle.

Now, Manuel finds himself admiring Ibanez's swing even more that he's a Phillie.

"He comes down through the ball good and he's got strong hands," Manuel said. "His bat stays in the hitting area for quite a while. And this ballpark is a lot better for him to hit in than Seattle."

After the Padres got on the board in the third, the Phillies played catch up the rest of the way. By the time the bottom of the ninth rolled around, they had cut the lead to 4-3 on a two-run homer from Chase Utley (sixth inning) and Jimmy Rollins' first career pinch-hit solo shot (eighth inning).

To start the ninth, Ryan Howard blooped a 3-1 pitch to center field for a single, bringing Ibanez to the plate. After taking two pitches, the five-hole hitter sent Edwin Moreno's offering out, giving him his fifth home run of the year.

Even with all Howard has already accomplished (a rookie of the year and MVP award), he's learning a thing or two from Ibanez.

"One thing for me when I'm watching him hit is the way he takes pitches," Howard said. "He's down. He's balanced. He watches it all the way back, so I'm not surprised to see him hit the ball like that."

Although Chan Ho Park's ERA went down, it was hardly an outing to be excited about. He lasted just five innings, allowing four earned runs, eight hits, including a homer and had just one 1-2-3 inning (the first).

Barring the first, he was in trouble in every inning. In the second, San Diego had runners at first and second with one out. He gave up three runs in the third before loading the bases in the fourth. In his final inning, Adrian Gonzalez homered.

Park again escaped defeat (the Phillies came back to win his first start in Colorado), but he has an 8.68 ERA. In 91/3 innings, he's struck out just five and walked four.

Manuel, though, doesn't have him on a short lease.

"Two starts in my mind is not a big chance," Manuel said. "It's still early. When you commit to somebody, I feel like you've got to give them the right chance."


Phillies 5

Padres 4

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: April 22, 2009

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