Phils fall after squandering five-run lead

Phils fall after squandering five-run lead

PHILADELPHIA -- On Saturday afternoon, the Phillies fell behind by three runs in the first inning, and not long ago, that would've been enough to spoil their day. Instead, it was only the beginning of a wild, extra-inning affair.

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After a game filled with long balls, Minnesota's winning hit never left the infield: Delmon Young's single to shortstop gave the Twins the go-ahead run, and the victory, in the 11th on Saturday, 13-10, in front of 45,254 at Citizens Bank Park. It capped an afternoon packed with offensive fireworks, a dizzying amount of ups and downs, and ultimately, an exhilarating finish.

It was not so joyful for Philadelphia, which relinquished a five-run lead in the ninth, tied the game in the 10th, but ended up losing a game they once seemed to have secured.

"This is a tough one," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.

Minnesota's reigning American League MVP Joe Mauer hit a game-tying two-run home run with two outs in the ninth off Phillies closer Brad Lidge, who was brought in to preserve what was a sizeable lead at the start of the frame.

Mauer's hit capped a frantic, last-inning rally by Minnesota, but they weren't done. Backup catcher Drew Butera's solo home run -- the first of his career -- in the 10th gave the Twins a 10-9 lead.

Philadelphia answered with a pinch-hit home run by Ross Gload with two outs that barely skimmed the top of the right-field wall. But again, the Phillies' bullpen couldn't keep Minnesota down.

"We've been feeling real good about the way we've been pitching, and tonight we were just bad," Lidge said. "They did an unbelievable job hitting, and we didn't do our job."

A few hours earlier, things were looking good for the Phillies and the sold-out crowd at Citizens Bank Park was rocking with the knowledge that Philadelphia's hitting woes had passed. The Phillies held an 8-3 lead after three innings -- appearing to be more than enough to cruise to their fourth straight win.

The confines of Citizens Bank Park, which seemed to stretch for miles only a week ago, suddenly appeared hitter-friendly again for the home team. The Phillies hit a season-high five home runs and had 14 hits.

"We hit the ball all day," Manuel said. "Unfortunately they came back and hit, too."

The offensive outburst marked the second straight game the Phillies knocked out Minnesota's starting pitcher in less than two innings, and the third straight game they scored more than seven runs. They had scored that many just once in the previous 26 games.

Even light-hitting shortstop Wilson Valdez got in on the act, hitting a solo home run to lead off the second inning. It was his first homer since September 2004.

"We were able to put up some runs, I think that's really huge for us," said Phillies starter Cole Hamels. "It was one of those days, it happens. You just keep going out."

Hamels settled down after a shaky first inning to breeze through the next six frames. And the Phillies didn't waste time getting him off the hook after falling behind 3-0.

Chase Utley hit a two-run triple and then scored on a sacrifice fly to even the game at 3 in the bottom of the first. Then the Phillies added four more in the second to knock out Kevin Slowey after 1 2/3 innings.

Two of the four runs came on a home run by Ryan Howard, his third in two games and 14th of the season.

Hamels retired 14 in a row at one point, allowing only two hits and one run after that first inning, finishing after 117 pitches, seven innings, four runs (three earned) and seven strikeouts.

"I made a few pitches that I would've liked to have had back," Hamels said. "I still thought I was able to go and execute. From there I was trying to make pitches and execute, and stay down in the zone."

The Twins' rally started when pinch-hitter Jim Thome hit a monstrous two-run home run in the ninth inning against his former club, marking the 30th team he has homered against in his career. The ball landed in the Twins bullpen, an estimated 456 feet away, and the fans at Citizens Bank Park gave the former Phillies slugger a standing ovation.

But the cheers turned to boos only a few batters later, when Lidge's 0-1 slider to Mauer was deposited in the stands in right-center-field. It was only the third home run of the year for Mauer.

"It wasn't a bad pitch, in my opinion," Lidge said. "Obviously he hit it out, so you can say it was a bad pitch, but I've thrown that pitch my entire career with good results. He's a pretty special player. Sometimes you've got to tip your hat."

"Our guys didn't quit," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "A lot of big at-bats. A lot of great things happened out there."

Philadelphia's bullpen allowed nine runs in four innings -- poor results for a unit that ranked near the top in the league in runs, hits and home runs allowed. The Phillies are left trying to pick up the pieces after a demoralizing loss that wipes out the good feelings after three straight victories.

"Usually when we score that many runs, we do win the game," Manuel said. "You definitely expect to win the game. It's tough."

Zach Schonbrun is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.