Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Phils turn back clock to last season for second straight night, rally past Brewers

PHILADELPHIA — Jim Fregosi made an appearance in the Citizens Bank Park pressbox Tuesday night. Pat Burrell was spotted in the dining room.
No, Phillies Alumni weekend isn’t until next month. Fregosi and Burrell are employed by the Atlanta Braves and San Francisco Giants, respectively.
They were among the close to two dozen major league scouts in attendance for a game featuring the Phils and Brewers, two teams that entered the night with a combined 105 losses.
With the July 31 trade deadline less than a week away, there are buyers and there are sellers and there are the Phillies, a team that’s had an identity crisis all month.
The last place Phillies, who have been aggressive buyers in each of the last five summers, have not gone into full-out sell-mode. And perhaps they won’t after watching their former comatose, late-inning offense stir to life for the third straight night.
After Cliff Lee was bounced from the game after allowing four home runs in his last three innings, digging his team into a five-run deficit, the Phils rallied for six runs in the bottom of the eighth to pull off an improbable 7-6 victory.
The Phillies have won three in a row and seven of their last 10.
A night after Erik Kratz scampered home on a sacrifice fly to give the Phils their second straight walk-off win, it was the little-used backup catcher who once again held a starring role. After an ill-advised decision by Milwaukee to pull starter Zack Greinke after seven innings and 87 pitches, Ty Wigginton led off the eighth with a single off Jose Veres and scored two batters later when Kratz launched a two-run home run off Manny Parra.
Kratz’s home run made it a 6-3 game.
But when Jimmy Rollins followed with a fly out to left, the Phils were four outs away from their fourth loss in their last seven games. They didn’t play like a team feeling the pressure of another game that had gotten away, however.
After Shane Victorino, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard worked consecutive walks, Carlos Ruiz cleared the bases with a game-tying double and Hunter Pence followed with a go-ahead, bloop single to right.
Perhaps the Phillies won’t be sellers after all. They are 9 ½ games back of the National League’s second Wild Card.
Jonathan Papelbon, who had a blown save and a loss in his previous two outings, closed out Tuesday night’s win with an easy, 1-2-3 ninth inning.
“I have faith that we can come back from this,” Pence said, echoing the clubhouse’s stance on the team’s place in the standings with a little more than two months remaining in the season. “We just have to have a hot streak. And it happens quick. You win a few in a row and you start believing you’re gong to do it every night. And then people start feeling you coming.”
While Lee became derailed at the end of his start — he allowed four home runs in his last three innings — free agent-to-be Zack Greinke was a sore sight for Phillies hitters and a very attractive one for the aforementioned scouts for the first two thirds of the night.
Greinke, who had allowed five runs in two of his last four starts, went three innings in another and was ejected in the other, returned to former Cy Young winner-form. He held the Phils to one run on three hits in seven sharp innings and smacked a two-out, solo home run off Lee before he called it a night.
After giving up a two-out, run-scoring single to Ryan Howard in the first inning, Greinke retired 19 of the 20 batters he faced from the end of the first through the seventh, including the final 14 in a row.
Greinke wouldn’t have a chance to make it 15, as he was replaced by a Brewers bullpen that has yielded 10 runs on seven hits and seven walks in 3 2/3 innings in the last two nights.


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