Phils pounce on chances, sink Astros
Rollins, Utley go deep; Hamels picks up first victory of '07
PHILADELPHIA -- This time, the Phillies didn't let up.The team that has surrendered leads and not taken advantage of run-scoring chances during a 2-8 start rallied from a deficit, then found ways to pad its lead in Saturday's 8-5 win over the Astros. The Phillies produced a 14-hit attack, drew six walks and evened the three-game series. When Jason Lane's three-run, fourth-inning homer landed in the left-field stands, and the Astros grabbed a 4-1 lead, the Phillies chose not to accept the possibility of a ninth loss in 11 games. "It was early, and everybody up and down lineup knew it was a matter of time before we put some runs across the plate," said Aaron Rowand, whose single in the fourth keyed the prompt erasing of the lead. "We just knew." "We got down and we fought back," added Ryan Howard. "We did the same thing [Friday], but fell short. Today, we came out on top." One out after Rowand's single, Carlos Ruiz doubled him in to cut the deficit to two runs. Pitcher Cole Hamels grounded to second for the second out, but Jimmy Rollins tied the score with his sixth home run, temporarily tying him for most in the Majors with the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez, who hit his seventh on Saturday night. Yes, that's six homers, meaning he has more this season than National League stars Miguel Cabrera, Carlos Lee, Adam Dunn and Barry Bonds. In the fun world of projections, Rollins is on pace for 88 homers. "Really?" Rollins said, with a smile. "I doubt I get to 88. I seriously doubt that." Still, each trot around the bases further fuels the debate about whether Rollins' power might be better served lower in the order. The flip side of the argument is that the leadoff hitter typically leads off once a game, and would have a chance to bat more often -- and Rollins remains one of the best leadoff men in baseball. Manager Charlie Manuel said he likes things just fine the way they are.
"He's hitting the ball good, and hitting for power," Manuel said. "Keep hitting, Jimmy. I'm not thinking about moving him down.""I'm a leadoff hitter. I hit home runs so now I'm batting behind Ryan Howard?" Rollins said. "It's weird to me."
Rollins shrugged at leading the NL in homers, as he'd rather lead in runs scored."I've hit them in other games we lost, so it didn't matter," he said. "As long as we get the win, if I hit a home run, that's great. If I score some runs, that's better." He scored one of Philadelphia's eight runs on Saturday, and helped the club secure its first home win and a chance at its first series of the season. The Phillies needed the offense to pick up Cole Hamels, who suffered his first subpar outing in three starts this season. The lefty needed 110 pitches over six laborious innings. Hamels said he struggled with his changeup, and Houston's hitters were ready. "They were more aware of it," Hamels said. "They were sitting on it, and I wasn't executing it. I think six or seven of the hits were on changeups I left out over the zone and they put them in play." Gassed, Hamels managed to strike out Humberto Quintero with the bases loaded in the sixth and left with the game tied. He recorded his first victory because the Phillies took the lead in the bottom of the inning. Pinch-hitter Jayson Werth singled and scored the go-ahead run two outs later on a double by Chase Utley. Pat Burrell's broken-bat RBI single produced the seventh run and followed an intentional walk to Howard, something for which Burrell is prepared. "Coming off [Howard hitting] 58 homers [last season], it's going to be the other guy more times than not, so it's important for the guys behind him to do their job," Burrell said. "That's the position you want to be in, and I was able to get a hit." And a win for the Phillies and Hamels, who got no-decisions instead of wins in his first two starts. "That's baseball," Hamels said. "You put out some good starts and don't get wins and my first one comes in a start I wasn't too pleased about. Luckily, the team played well for me." The bullpen also pitched well, keeping the lead, starting with Francisco Rosario's scoreless seventh inning. Rosario, in his first outing since being added to the roster on Monday, impressed Manuel with a fastball in the mid-90s. "We felt like it was time to put him in," Manuel said. "I like big arms at the end of the bullpen. He showed a good fastball." Antonio Alfonseca tossed the eighth and Tom Gordon worked the ninth for his second save. "Obviously, things haven't been going that way we wanted them to [at the beginning of the season], but to get down, we could have easily given up," Howard said. "We didn't. We came back."
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.