08/28/10 10:27 PM ET
Do-it-all Victorino leads Phils past Padres
By Todd Zolecki / MLB.com
How could they not?
He had hit .336 against left-handers this season, but just .220 against right-handers. Those splits tempted Phillies manager Charlie Manuel to bench him Saturday at PETCO Park against Padres right-hander Jon Garland and play rookie Domonic Brown instead. But it's a good thing Manuel stuck with Victorino. He had two hits and two RBIs against Garland in a 3-1 victory.
"One game," Victorino said. "It doesn't mean that's the final answer to everything. But I'll definitely take it."
The Phillies, who looked lifeless following a four-game sweep to the Houston Astros this week at Citizens Bank Park, can sweep the Padres with a victory on Sunday. The Phillies remained two games behind the Atlanta Braves in the National League East after the Braves beat the Marlins, 12-3, at Turner Field.
The Phillies maintained their lead over the San Francisco Giants in the NL Wild Card race.
"You've got to give credit to Charlie for [him to keep] running me out there," Victorino said.
Victorino grounded out in the third inning to drop to .042 (1-for-24) against right-handers in his past 11 games, and .157 (8-for-51) with two doubles and one RBI against right-handers since July 20. But he came alive in the fifth inning after Garland hit Jayson Werth with a pitch to start the inning.
Victorino singled to center to score Werth to hand the Phillies a 1-0 lead.
Garland walked Werth to start the seventh inning and Victorino followed two batters later with a triple to left-center field to make it 2-1. Victorino scored on Mike Sweeney's groundout when Sweeney hustled down the first-base line to beat out a potential inning-ending double play.
"That's the only thing that hurt me," Garland said. "If I don't give the free passes and Victorino still gets his hits, it doesn't hurt me. Those always come back to hurt you. That goes without even saying. You start giving free passes, you start giving extra bases ... it doesn't matter what team, what uniform. If you're in the big leagues, you can't give extra stuff like that."
But Victorino helped with more than just his bat. He threw out Padres catcher Nick Hundley at the plate to end the fifth inning and keep the game tied, 1-1. Phillies right-hander Joe Blanton, who allowed six hits and one run in six innings, was more than appreciative.
Blanton also got fine defense from third baseman Placido Polanco. Blanton allowed a leadoff double in the third inning, but Polanco speared a bullet from Hundley to get the first out. Polanco recorded the other two outs to end the inning.
"Those are big," Blanton said. "When you get plays like that when you're pitching, it makes you feel comfortable going right at hitters -- 'Hey, my defense is solid today. I can go right at them, not walk anybody and let them make plays.'
"They did a fantastic job behind me today. There was a runner on second with nobody out. If that ball gets through there's a minimum of runners on first and third and nobody out. You don't really know. That's two runs you can take off right there with two great defensive plays."
Blanton is 3-1 with a 3.41 ERA in nine starts since the All-Star break.
If he keeps pitching like he has, the Phillies will be tough to hit down the stretch.
It would be even better if the offense starts hitting. The Phillies scored three runs on just three hits Saturday, but they were enough.
It won't always be that way.
"I think we know how many games we have left, and we know what we have to do," Manuel said. "We know how we have to play. Today we got three hits. We know we have to score more runs than that. We know we have to hit better.
"In the meantime, as long as we get that kind of pitching and we play good, solid defense, we'll always have a chance to win close games. Basically, that's what happened today. We took advantage of a break or two, and that was it."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.