PHILADELPHIA -- Twenty minutes after staving off Arizona's near comeback in Game 1 of Saturday's doubleheader, manager Charlie Manuel smiled at the thought of returning to the land of above .500. "Now we have to battle to stay there," he said. The nightcap fit that description perfectly, and Philadelphia passed with a well-timed rally started by pinch-hitter Endy Chavez and capped by utilityman Placido Polanco. Closer Billy Wagner then staved off a second Arizona uprising as Philly escaped with a 5-3 win and a twinbill sweep.
"I'm enjoying it, and our players are enjoying it," said Manuel. "They're having fun. That's how I want us to play. I want us to stay positive and see where we are at the end of the season." Winners of five straight and 14 out of 20, the Phillies can't seem to climb out of last place in baseball's tightest division. Their eighth doubleheader sweep out of their previous 12 vaulted them to within 1 1/2 games of first. To review: One-and-a-half games separate the first-place Braves from the Phillies, with the Marlins, Nationals and Mets sandwiched in between. Sounds like an exciting division. "That's what everybody expected," said Todd Pratt. "We need all the wins we can get," said Kenny Lofton, who tripled in each of the games. "We're just rolling with it. [The NL East] is one of those divisions, and it's starting to show how tough it is." Though Wagner recorded his lucky 13th save, the ending of Game 2 was anything but ordinary. Pinch-hitter Tony Clark began the inning by singling off the third-base bag. Two outs later, Luis Gonzalez got some calls from home plate umpire Dale Scott that Wagner didn't agree with. He wound up walking. With Troy Glaus up, the runners took off on a double steal -- a play that Bob Melvin called a miscommunication -- and Pratt cut down Gonzalez at second, ending the game. Manuel gave credit to bench coach Gary Varsho, who sent a reminder out with pitching coach Rich Dubee. "He was right on it," said Manuel. So was Pratt's throw. High-fives abounded on the field, as the Phillies moved two games above .500, their highest point of the season.
Dominant starter Brett Myers (5-3) stumbled through some early lapses, but limited the damage each time. He allowed three straight singles to open the game for Arizona's first run, then wound up striking out the side.
He surrendered back-to-back homers to Alex Cintron and Gonzalez in the fifth. The turning point came in the sixth, when Myers got out of a second-and-third, one-out situation. Sounds of a momentum shift could loudly be heard from the 43,449 at Citizens Bank Park.
"It's kind of like Brett has been in a fight and he's coming out of it stronger," said Pratt. "Good pitchers win games when they don't have their best stuff. He wasn't having his best night, but he showed his strength when guys got on and he shut them down."
Endy Chavez provided a big life with a single -- breaking a stretch of 15 straight retired by Arizona starter Russ Ortiz -- and scored on a triple by Kenny Lofton. Polanco gave Philadelphia the lead with the first of his two homers.
Myers got the win for his efforts, making up for some of those brilliant outings in which he received a no-decision.
"These are tough ones," Myers said. "But it's more satisfying and more fulfilling than when you have your best stuff and win. It's better than going eight shutout innings when you dominate, because you went out there and gave it everything you had."
The Phillies have been doing that, too, and are getting the wins to show for it. They won't have any time to relish this win because of the quick turnaround. The teams play again Sunday at 1:35 p.m. ET.
"It's short-lived excitement," said Wagner. "We have to be back here [soon]."
|"I'm enjoying it, and our players are enjoying it. They're having fun. That's how I want us to play. I want us to stay positive and see where we are at the end of the season."|
|-- Charlie Manuel on Phillies' current winning ways|
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.