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Werth feels at home as a basestealer


Werth feels at home as a basestealer
Jayson Werth, standing on third base in the bottom of the seventh, noticed it on the first pitch to Pedro Feliz. With the bases loaded and two outs, Dodgers catcher Russell Martin was ignoring him.

"He didn't even look at me," the Phillies rightfielder said. "So I figured, with two strikes, I'd go."

Sure enough, Dodgers reliever Ronald Belisario went 2-1 on Feliz. His next pitch was taken for a strike. Werth had taken several steps toward the plate, then stopped. But when Martin lobbed the ball back toward the mound, he broke for home, sliding in safely before the startled Belisario could get the ball back to Martin.

That wasn't the winning run in the Phillies' 5-3 win over the Dodgers last night in Citizens Bank Park. And, in the big picture, it probably wasn't as significant as the fact that righthander Chan Ho Park had his second straight solid start.

But for a Phillies team that had lost four of five coming in, scoring two or fewer runs in three of the losses, Werth's heads-up play was emblematic of a renewed aggressiveness.

The Phillies had just 12 stolen bases all season before getting six last night. Werth had four, tying a franchise record originally set by Sherry Magee in 1906 and tied by Garry Maddox in 1978.

"It wasn't like he caught us unawares, but he picked our pockets anyway," said Dodgers manager Joe Torre.

Werth said first-base coach Davey Lopes had been agitating the players to be more aggressive and not miss opportunities on the bases.

"If they're not going to look at you, pay attention to you, you have to take advantage," Werth said.

Martin conceded he'd been caught napping.

"It was an embarrassing play. That shouldn't happen," he said. "Yes, he timed it perfectly. But I should have been peeking. All I was concentrating on was getting the hitter out."

The flip side of the coin was that it was a baserunning mistake by the Dodgers that helped Park survive a rocky first inning and go on to put the Phillies in a position to win.

Coming off what was by far his best start of the season - six shutout innings, allowing just one hit against the Mets - Park was in trouble from the outset last night. Three of the first four batters he faced got hits, starting with a double by Juan Pierre over the head of Werth. Even the one who didn't, Rafael Furcal, hit the ball hard, lining out to short.

Orlando Hudson followed with a base hit to right, scoring Pierre. But Park got a break when Hudson rounded first on the throw to the plate. He might have had a chance to scramble back to safety, but slipped and fell and was tagged out after being caught in a rundown. So when Andre Ethier followed with another double, it didn't drive in a run. And Park settled down after that, retiring the next seven hitters.

"I felt good. I made pitches," he said. "The first thing is to be aggressive. After back-to-back good outings, I feel comfortable. [Catcher Carlos Ruiz] called very good pitches. I like him and have a strong trust in him."

Ruiz was on the disabled list for Park's first four starts but has been behind the plate for the last two.

Before he dominated the Mets, there had been strong speculation that Park was on the verge of pitching himself out of the rotation. He insisted he never worried about that. "That's a bad thought. Negative," he said.

It was Park's first win for the Phillies .

"His last two starts, he's sort of come into his own as far as command," manager Charlie Manuel said. "He stayed within himself. His fastball was sinking. He did a pretty good job."

Closer Brad Lidge, who had been sidelined with right knee inflammation, got his first save opportunity since April 25. He converted it despite giving up a run.

"Getting a save opportunity was a lot of fun," he said. "That was the longest I've ever gone as a closer without one. That really gets the adrenaline going. I felt better tonight than I have at any point this season, even before I hurt my knee."

Phillers Charlie Manuel's new-look lineup resulted in just six hits, but the Phillies won. And the Dodgers are starting another lefthander, Randy Wolf, tonight. So he hinted strongly that Shane Victorino might lead off again with Chase Utley batting second, Jayson Werth third and Jimmy Rollins fifth. "You don't throw away a winning ticket, do you?" he joked . . . The rundown play that retired Orlando Hudson in the first inning was a rarity. It started with an outfielder (Jayson Werth) and ended with an outfielder ( Raul Ibanez ). According to Dave Smith from retrosheet.org, it was the first time that's happened this season and it occurred just once all last year . . . More Dave Smith: Before stealing home in the seventh, Werth had also stolen second and third in that inning. The last player to steal his way from first to home was Eric Young for the Rockies in 1996. The last Phillie to do it: Pete Rose in 1980. *


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: May 13, 2009

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