Behind the nasty gun of Vicente Padilla, the Phils use a four-run ninth to notch their second-straight road series win, beating the Padres 5-2 last night.
The game featured absolute filth from Padilla, who shot down the Pads over seven scoreless sets, allowing four hits and striking out five. His pitches were still clocked at 96 mph in the seventh.
The rejuvenated right-hander entered the night with a 2.29 ERA in his previous six starts, but earned only two wins during that span. The Phils managed only a single run of support, and Padilla earned a no-decision once again.
His fastball was absolutely electric, perhaps the best fastball I’ve seen all year from any starting pitcher. Even catcher Mike Lieberthal had trouble handling it.
Padilla needed it because he was forced to pitch out of a number of jams, including a bases-loaded, one out situation in the sixth. He did it again in the seven, notching a big strikeout against Jon Randa to end a first and third threat with two outs.
Lately, his pitches have clicked, but more importantly, he’s staying composed with men on base. He still looks awful at the plate, attempting some sort of "bunt" in the seventh, but the Phils are happy to take it with results this good. Padilla is their best pitcher right now.
On a night after Jon Lieber held the Pads in check, here’s another starter finding consistency right when they need it.
With the win, the Phils pull to 1.5 back of Houston in the Wild Card race.
Other game notes
If there was ever a player desperate for a hit in a big spot, that was David Bell last night in the seventh. Following a Pat Burrell single and a walk to Ryan Howard, Bell singled to left with two outs to put the Phils on the board.
There has been much justified grumbling about Bell’s bat this month, but I’ve also been losing faith in his defense. He butchered another grounder last night for his 15th error of the season.
It was good to see him redeem himself with the RBI. The error nearly cost them, but Padilla pitched out of the jam.
Another hero last night was Howard, who bounced back after going 0-6 the last two nights. He provided the go-ahead RBI in the ninth. He has seven RBIs on this road trip and went 2-3 last night.
Mike Lieberthal likes hitting in his home state. He’s 6-12 during this California trip, including an RBI in the ninth. This trip hasn't been as kind to Jimmy Rollins. The Oakland-native is 1-21 on this West Coast swing.
Don't look now: Asian on the horizon
This afternoon, it's Robinson Tejeda (2-2, 2.86 ERA) against the newly-acquired Chan Ho Park (1-0, 6.30 ERA). Park has had career success against Philadelphia. He's 6-1 with a 2.29 ERA against the Phils in 13 appearances, including seven starts. The last Phils game against an Asian starter didn't go well, a shutout debacle at the hands of Milwaukee journeyman Tomo Ohka.