This was a very strange trip out west, but the Phillies not only salvaged it Sunday but will have something to build on coming back home. Four runs in the ninth and 10th innings gave them a 4-2 win over the Diamondbacks and a 4-3 record in San Francisco and Arizona.
What was an abysmal offensive showing for eight innings completely turned around once Kirk Gibson inexplicably took starter Brandon McCarthy out of the game. McCarthy entered with a 6.75 ERA and the highest hit total in the NL, but he shut the Phils out through eight innings and threw just 88 pitches. Gibson, for whatever reason, took him out to start the ninth, replacing him with an overworked Heath Bell.
The Phillies saw Bell well the other day but didn't beat him. This time, they did. Chase Utley greeted him with a two-strike double. Ryan Howard grounded him over to third. Delmon Young swung at a 56-foot curveball on the first pitch, but recovered to have a great AB and lace an opposite-field RBI double. It was his second clutch, ninth-inning RBI of the trip.
Domonic Brown tied the game later in the inning, and the hit parade continued in the 10th when Utley doubled again to advance Jimmy Rollins to third. Howard finally came through with his first two-run hit since April 28, a single that knocked in both Rollins and Utley. Jonathan Papelbon entered and the rest was history.
This was an enormous win for a maddening team. How did they manage no runs off McCarthy, but then score two on four hits off lefty Matt Reynolds, who entered with a 0.00 ERA in 17.2 innings?
Thank Gibson and Bell. Also thank the heavens that Gibson isn't your manager. This is the second time in two weeks he pulled his starting pitcher after 88 brilliant pitches. It happened to Trevor Cahill three starts ago, and JJ Putz immediately allowed the game-tying homer and the D-backs went on to lose.
Utley was the offensive star of the game, going 4-for-5 with a pair of doubles and runs. He's up to .289/.344/.514 on the season.
Rollins and Howard made up for eight outs in their first eight plate appearances with the 10th inning knocks. And Freddy Galvis started the day 3-for-3 before finishing 3-for-5.
Oh, and don't forget about Kyle Kendrick. He allowed two runs over seven innings, marking the 15th time in his last 18 starts he's kept the opponent under three runs. Kendrick is 4-1 with a 2.47 ERA on the season.
The Phillies are off Monday and Thursday this week. Odd scheduling. They play the Indians on Tuesday and Wednesday at home, and then have a three-game weekend series with the Reds. Let's hope these Ohio showdowns go better the second time around.