For the 33,000 who were at the game last night, they were treated to a good one. Besides the former Phillies All-Stars – Dale Murphy, Johnny Callison, and Darren Daulton – in attendance and Meatloaf singing "Taking Me Out to the Ballgame," the Phils played well and secured a win to open their four-game series against the Braves. Cory Lidle bucked the recent trend of giving up early runs and allowed just three over the course of eight innings. The three runs came off two home runs, his 16th and 17th surendered this season, including one to the Braves’ eight-hole hitter, rookie Scott Thorman. Fortunately Chris Coste returned the favor as he hit a two-run shot (his 2nd career home run) early in the game. Lidle’s ERA dipped below 5 to 4.91 as he evened his record to 7-7.
Besides the production from Chris Coste, who continues to make a case to replace Lieberthal next year, Jimmy Rollins and David Bell contributed with four hits apiece. Also, David Dellucci batting for Lidle in the eighth, extended his lead in the NL pinch-hit department (15 total) and scored Aaron Rowand to propel the Phils to a 4-3 lead. JRoll recorded three singles on the night, (including one to lead-off the game) as well as a big homer to tie it in the seventh. As I watched on Comcast, you could really hear the excitement in Harry Kalas’ voice as he called that one. He knows that this homestand is crucial for the club both from a transactional standpoint as well as determining the likelihood of the club summoning a playoff push. Harry was also thrilled by Chase Utley’s two-run single which extended his hitting streak to 22 games and provided some much needed insurance. Also pleased by Chase’s clutch hit were the ladies of Chase’s Chicks, a new fan group consisting of 10 girls dressed in yellow with chicken hats sitting up near section 302.
In the ninth, Tom Gordon came on and struck out Andruw Jones to start the inning. He then gave up a single and fell behind Jeff Francoeur 3-1. Gordon threw him a fastball which immediately ended up in the left-centerfield stands and pulled the Braves within one. Fortunately Tom settled down and converted the save opportunity. It would have looked real bad if just after we advertise a trip to New York to cheer on Flash that he would blow a save.
This was a key win for the Phils as they begin a 12-game homestand against the streaking Braves. The Fightins remain 5.5 games and 8 teams back in the Wild Card standings but only 2 games from leapfrogging 5 of those 8 teams. If the Phillies can end the Braves series with the Wild Card in sight, it could go a long way in proving to themselves that they still have a streak left in them. We all know the Phils thrive off momentum for better or worse. Some positive momentum could also help Pat Gillick decide the urgency in making moves before the deadline, now just nine days away.