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Phils snap shutout, losing streaks in Florida

Phils snap shutout, losing streaks in Florida

MIAMI -- A stretch of losses and offensive ineptitude has been the storyline recently, but it's the stolen base that has eluded the Phillies all season.

On Friday night, they rode that to a streak-busting victory.

Thanks to some key steals that helped them pull ahead of the Marlins, and a bend-but-don't-break performance from Kyle Kendrick, the Phils snapped a three-game scoreless streak and a five-game losing streak with a 3-2 win over the Marlins at Sun Life Stadium.

"What we've been doing is waiting for that one hit, and it hasn't been coming," said Shane Victorino, who picked up his team-leading 10th stolen base of the year. "So we have to make things happen."

The Phillies came into the game with a National League-low 17 stolen bases, but it was a two-out steal by Chase Utley and a risky double steal led by Victorino that was the difference on Friday.

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel summed up the change in strategy rather simplistically.

"If you don't get the right people on, you can't be aggressive," Manuel said in reference to a club that has received just 12 games from leadoff man Jimmy Rollins. "That's the whole secret is getting the right people on."

The Phillies hadn't had much of that while going scoreless in four of their previous five games. But they seemingly got the right one on in the top of the fourth during the series opener against the Marlins: the not-so-fleet-of-foot Ryan Howard.

Howard reached on a single, then motored around on a Raul Ibanez triple to right-center field to give the Phillies their first run since the ninth inning of Sunday's game against the Red Sox.

That put an end to a stretch of 30 consecutive innings without a run -- the longest since the Braves had 31 in a row from June 18-23, 2007. The Phils hadn't scored in 49 of their previous 50 frames.

"Sometimes," Howard said, "all it takes is just one -- just one big moment to get big things going."

That run allowed the Phillies to exhale, but Manuel was quick to point out that Ibanez was left stranded on third base with nobody out and the opportunity to tie the game at 2.

That's when the aggressive baserunning that has been rather absent all year played a factor.

The first of a season-high three steals came in the fifth, when Utley picked up his second bag of the year, allowing him to score from second on Howard's single to tie the game at 2.

"Utley's steal in the fifth was huge," Manuel said after a game that had the first pitch delayed 26 minutes because of rain.

Then with runners on first and second and one out in the seventh, Victorino made a bold move to steal third base off left-hander Taylor Tankersley, while Wilson Valdez -- who hadn't swiped a bag since April 17, 2007 -- followed to put runners on second and third.

"The way we've been playing, it's almost like you want to kind of push the envelope a little bit and make some things happen," said Victorino, who because of that was able to score on Utley's groundout and give his team the lead.

That set the stage for Chad Durbin, Danys Baez and Jose Contreras -- who hadn't pitched in many meaningful games recently -- to nail down the win.

"We were all excited," Victorino said. "We forgot what it was like. Shaking hands, I forgot what it was like to high-five some guys after the game."

Kendrick needed 67 pitches to get through the first three innings, but he settled down thereafter, retiring 10 of the last 11 batters he faced to finish his outing giving up two unearned runs in six innings.

Manuel said he needs Kendrick to pick up his tempo and establish a better rhythm on the mound, which is something the 25-year-old right-hander began to display down the stretch.

"I started doing that," said Kendrick, whose two runs were unearned because of his own throwing error on Hanley Ramirez's comebacker in the third. "That was nice -- getting a rhythm and most of the time working ahead. I think that's what helped me in the later innings."

Offensively, though, the Phillies are still searching for that rhythm. But though Friday's game didn't display the run-scoring potential in Philly's high-powered lineup, Manuel believes the bats will get going soon enough.

"We're going to score runs," Manuel said. "Especially when we get Jimmy back and we get that balance down through our lineup and get some guys going. We'll score some runs. We're definitely built to score runs, and we will."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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