Jayson Werth went 3-for-4 with a career-high four RBI to lead the Phils past the Braves, 5-4. Werth yet again mashed a lefty, as all his three hits came against Jo-Jo Reyes. The Atlanta starter was spotted three early runs off Kyle Kendrick, but the Braves couldn’t get anything else until the ninth, when a misplayed fly ball by Werth led to an RBI double by Brian McCann. Werth â€” not Shane Victorino â€” was playing center field, a move made by Charlie Manuel to give Werth some time in center. Bad move. If both are out there, there’s no reason to give Werth center field. It could’ve cost the team the win.
Because of the misplay Brad Lidge was charged for his first earned run of the season. His ERA is still low: 0.50. His save was his 10th. JC Romero (getting out of another jam) and Tom Gordon (looking good) set Lidge up yet again as the best back end in baseball continued doing its thing.
Despite the bad first inning, Kendrick held it together to go six, giving up three runs â€” yet another Kendrickian start. He walked four and struck out two â€” not pretty, but the job got done. By the time he left he had a 4-3 lead.
Things could’ve been ugly from the start with the Atlanta three spot, but Kendrick showed us that “poise” or “luck” that made him a good pitcher last season. Getting a 2:1 grounder to fly ratio and using the double play ball to his advantage, Kendrick wiggled out of minor jams all game. Nothing fazed him. That’s the Kendrick we know, we like, and we need.
Ryan Howard showed signs of life with two hits in four at bats. He drove a double to center field to set up two of Werth’s RBI, then dropped a single into right field to drive in one. But there is another side to the coin: Howard struck out twice in the game. Pat Burrell also notched two hits, as did Shane Victorino, as every Phillie regular position starter scored a hit off Atlanta pitching.
It was great to see the offense working â€” in pressure situations and by singles and doubles. Werth was again a beast, and there’s absolutely no reason to ever sit him against left-handed pitching. He just knows how to hit them. Hopefully that swing of Howard’s is finally coming back, though I still wish he’d move two inches closer to the plate. But you can’t argue with the results in game one. A big win against a big rival.
Associated Press photo