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Playoff Baseball: Phils Take Series From Cards

In a heart-wrenching, gut-twisting game, the Phillies seized one from the Cardinals, 5-4. But it was not easy.

They scored four in the eighth to take it. Pat Burrell knocked a clutch RBI single to tie the game at two, then Shane Victorino lined a three-run home run to take the big 5-2 lead. Every run was important. Surprisingly the Chad Durbin-JC Romero-Ryan Madson troika gave up a run in the eighth, but a two-run lead should’ve been enough for the flawless Brad Lidge.

It nearly wasn’t. Lidge allowed a leadoff home run by Troy Glaus, then loaded the bases with one out. What seemed like a surefire blown save — his first of the season — became a day’s work. Strikeout swinging. Strikeout swinging. Game over. The Phillies are now 2.5 games above the Marlins and three above the Mets in the NL East. And as one reader said, “fifty straight after eight” (the Phils are now 50-0 when leading after eight). Absolutely.

The major storyline going in was Brett Myers, who needed to follow up his strong start against Washington. He gave up two runs on four hits in six innings, walking none and striking out three. He threw 64 pitches, 46 for strikes. Pretty impressive. Only the red-hot Ryan Ludwick (double, home run) was able to really hit him. It’s getting a little easier to feel confident about Myers.

Really, this was one of those classic games the Phils could’ve been doomed for. The offense was simply cold against a guy they ruined a month ago. They got lucky with double play balls. The Cards couldn’t convert in the end. But hey, give it up for the gutsy bullpen, Myers holding tight and the Phils offense breaking out late with clutch hits (by the way, Chase Utley hit his 28th homer of the season). Add Tony LaRussa’s multiple pitching changes (five in the last three innings) and late-inning drama and you got a playoff-caliber win. And one that gives the Phils a nice lead going into the Marlins series.

Associated Press photo

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