The Phillies lost Chase Utley for eight weeks after he tore a tendon in his left thumb on Monday, an injury that required surgery on Thursday. They lost Placido Polanco for three to four weeks because of inflammation in his left elbow. They dropped the first two games of their four-game series against the lowly Pirates in lackluster fashion, losing on Thursday to a winless pitcher with an 11.00 ERA and on Friday to a winless pitcher who had not won a game in 16 starts dating back to August 2009.
Manager Charlie Manuel said that his hitters needed to relax, and they appeared perfectly relaxed before Saturday's 12-4 victory at PNC Park, watching the World Cup on TV in the corner of the visitor's clubhouse, cheering and screaming at some of the match's biggest moments.
"That's the one thing about this team: We don't panic," said first baseman Ryan Howard, who went 2-for-5 with three RBIs. "We know that every day is a new day. We know that what's happening or what's going on or what we're going through right now, we know that it's not going to last the entire season."
There had been talk about the Phillies making a run at Ty Wigginton, Miguel Tejada or Kelly Johnson to plug the holes Utley and Polanco left in the lineup, and they probably will, but the reality had set in quickly that none of those players would help much if the big men in the lineup -- Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Jayson Werth, Raul Ibanez and Shane Victorino -- did not start hitting.
Those sluggers went just 5-for-35 in the two losses to the Pirates. Greg Dobbs, Wilson Valdez and Dane Sardinha went 7-for-20.
On Saturday, Howard, Rollins, Victorino and Werth combined to go 9-for-19 with eight RBIs.
"I think our hitters get paid big money because they hit," Manuel said. "They're very capable of hitting. We've got plenty of good hitters to hit. But at the same time, we need all the hitters we can get, if that makes sense. Hey, it's nice to have eight. Even a pitcher that can hit, too."
That would be right-hander Kyle Kendrick, who recorded a hit en route to throwing his first career complete game.
Rollins hit a leadoff single in the first inning and scored on Victorino's triple to make it 1-0. Victorino scored on Howard's single to right to make it 2-0.
"[The] key to the game is [getting] on base all night," said Manuel.
The Phils kept pouring it on, crushing Pirates left-hander Paul Maholm in the third inning, scoring five runs in the frame to take a six-run lead.
Maholm took the loss after allowing 10 hits, eight runs and two walks in three-plus innings.
Rollins added a two-run homer to left field in the fifth inning and Ben Francisco, who played in left field in place of Ibanez, hit a solo homer to left in the sixth.
The Phillies have been getting good pitching performances lately, so the offensive breakout overshadowed Kendrick's night. The right-hander allowed 10 hits (two of them homers) and four runs (three earned), walked two and struck out four.
It was a big start for Kendrick, who was 1-1 with a 6.04 ERA in his previous four starts, though he made it interesting in the ninth, giving up three singles and a run before getting the final out.
"I bet you guys were wondering when I was going to take Kendrick out, weren't you?" Manuel said. "[Phillies pitching coach Rich] Dubee just kept saying, 'One more, one more. Hurry up and get one more out.' "
Kendrick, who threw five complete games in the Minor Leagues, said it felt great to get his first one in the Majors.
"It was fun," Kendrick said. "I just wanted to stay aggressive in that ninth inning. I gave up a couple of hits, but it was fun to finish the game."
It was fun for the Phillies to hit again, too, as they had scored just eight runs in their previous four losses. They can get the series split with a victory on Sunday.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less