It’s not often the Phillies get off to a big early lead. So when they did tonight against Zach Duke and the Pirates, the bullpen made sure it stayed a lead. Though a 6-0 advantage turned to a 6-5 nailbiter, the bullpen pulled together another solid effort, keeping the Pirates 180 feet away from the plate for a win.
Adam Eaton was solid for the first three innings, but the heart of the Pirates order made him pay for easy pitches over the plate. It was 6-3 in no time. Chad Durbin even brought the score to 6-5, but a solid sixth inning from him, followed by strong showings by Tom Gordon, JC Romero and Brad Lidge kept the game out of reach for Pittsburgh.
Chris Coste and Jayson Werth supplied the bulk of the Phils’ offense. Coste had a two-run double in the first inning and an RBI single in the third. Werth homered in the third and singled home Brad Harman in the fourth. Earlier in that inning, Harman collected his first MLB hit, an RBI double, scoring Eric Bruntlett.
For the first time in a while, Chase Utley and Pat Burrell went relatively quiet offensively, but the Phillies still won, thanks to clutch hits by third-tier players (Werth, Harman, Coste) and a huge effort (yet again) by the bullpen. Gordon and Romero escaped their own jams, and Lidge was downright nasty, striking out two thanks to his filthy fastball/slider combination. Clearly, one month in, Lidge is the best offseason addition for the Phils.
It was nice to see the Phils capitalize off the Pirates mistakes. A lazy throw to third by Jason Bay allowed Pat Burrell to take second on a fringe double. A deflection off Brian Bixler’s glove allowed Burrell to score one batter later. That run basically was the difference in the game. Taking advantage of a bad team’s errors: Something you have to do in order to win a division.
Still, it was the bullpen that delivered the futile blow. Kudos to them, again, for shutting down the Pirates after rallying against Eaton and Durbin. And yes, it was a good move by Charlie Manuel to pull Eaton after 3.2 innings. He needs to know he can’t get hit around that easily. He needs to know he has to be more effective than that. The bullpen took care of it in the end.
Associated Press photo