Stolen base yields big reward for Phillies

Stolen base yields big reward for Phillies

NEW YORK -- The catalyst for Philadelphia's four-run outburst in the second inning of Wednesday's 6-3 win likely caught the Yankees by surprise -- a stolen base by 38-year-old outfielder Raul Ibanez with one out in the inning.

But Phillies first-base coach Davey Lopes didn't think it was a risky move, not the way he and manager Charlie Manuel were clocking Yankees pitcher A.J. Burnett and the lack of attention he was paying to Ibanez at first base.

"You take advantage of what the opposition presents to you," Lopes said. "He took the opportunity and stole the base, and it worked out to an RBI."

Lopes was surprised the play was so close at second base. Ibanez -- though not as swift as he once was, especially following offseason surgery to remove a sports hernia -- can run, and Burnett seemed entirely focused on retiring Greg Dobbs at the plate. Lopes credited Yankees catcher Jorge Posada with making a good throw to nearly catch Ibanez and wipe out the play.

If Posada got Ibanez there, Philadelphia's big inning likely wouldn't have happened -- Dobbs wouldn't have plated Ibanez with an RBI single a few pitches later; the Phillies wouldn't have added three more runs on a triple by Shane Victorino three batters afterward.

"Whatever he says, goes," Ibanez said, when asked if he was surprised to be given the green light to steal. "He handles the running stuff. It's pretty much if he says to do something, you do it."

Much has been made of Philadelphia's drop in stolen bases this season compared with years passed. The Phillies stole three bags on Wednesday, just the second time this season they've swiped that many -- at this time last year, they had done that six times. Their 32 stolen bases are tied for third-fewest in the National League.

But the Phillies have picked up the pace recently, and they have been successful 24 of the last 25 attempts.

"Jimmy [Rollins] has been out all season, and other guys just have not attempted to steal as much," Lopes said. "Lately guys just haven't been getting on base enough to attempt to steal. Those are all rationalizations, but yet that's exactly what's happening. Hopefully as the season progresses, we'll start picking up the pace."