Highlighted by Michael Tucker’s game-winning RBI with two outs, followed by Shane Victorino’s first career homer, the Phillies rallied in the ninth inning off Tim Hudson to beat Atlanta 4-0 this afternoon.
Sour grapes: The Astros also won their game over the Pirates 2-1, maintaining a two-game edge in the NL Wild Card with nine games to play.
The ninth-inning rally was paced by Bobby Abreu’s leadoff walk, followed by a single up the middle by Ryan Howard. Tucker pinch hit for Todd Pratt with two outs and connected off Hudson for the first run of the game. Victorino’s three-run homer was the first of his career and gave the Phils all the runs they needed.
The heroics rewarded a fine effort from pitcher Jon Lieber. This had to be his best game in a Phillies uniform, coming with less than two weeks left to play. Lieber threw eight innings of four-hit shutout ball.
Billy Wagner came on in the ninth to finish it off in a non-save situation.
The contest is sure to be remembered for Bobby Cox’s decision to allow Hudson to bat in the bottom of the eighth with the potential go-ahead run at third. Hudson tapped out in front of the plate, and Rafael Furcal’s line drive was backhanded by David Bell. I didn’t see the play, but managed to catch the ninth inning on my boss' television.
When the Phils acquired Michael Tucker as an extra bat off the bench, I set the bar at two big hits to make the trade worth it. It’s officially worth it.
As for Shane Victorino, the Phillies may have stumbled onto something pretty special with the Rule 5 pick. The International League MVP has demonstrated he can hit for power this season with the Red Barons and this afternoon in Atlanta, on top of good speed and a nifty glove in the eyes of coaches.
Could he be the future of center field? He already has as many homers as Marlon Byrd, one more than Endy Chavez, one less than Kenny Lofton, and is just three behind Jason Michaels.
Jimmy Rollins extended his hitting streak to 27 games, moving past Chuck Klein on the Phillies all-time list. Next up ... Ed Delahanty’s 31-gamer set in 1899.
Look out, Ed.