Kyle Kendrick pitched 6 2/3 solid innings and the Phillies rallied from an early three-run deficit to edge the Dodgers, 5-4, before a crowd of 35,326 on a chilly Tuesday night at Citizens Bank Park. It was a much-needed victory after back-to-back frustrating losses against the Pirates on Saturday and Sunday at PNC Park.
"If we don't win, all the other stuff gets talked about," said Phillies closer Brett Myers, who pitched a scoreless ninth inning for his 12th save. "We have to keep playing with heart and go through it."
Myers was referring to the incredible amount of injuries the Phillies have endured. Sixteen players have wound up on the disabled list and ace starter Cole Hamels could be next. Hamels was scratched from Wednesday's start with a mild left elbow strain and will undergo an MRI to determine whether he'll miss one start or possibly up to three weeks.
No matter who fills in at any position, the Phillies understand they have to keep playing. With two games remaining against the Dodgers, three against the Padres and four against the Mets, this stretch of home games could make or break their season.
Regardless of who's in the lineup, the Phillies truly believe they're going to win.
"You've seen those feel-good movies?" Myers asked. "It took 'Rudy' all the way to the end. It was a true story, right? Hey, heart takes you a long way."
Heart has taken Kendrick a long way since his ascension from Double-A Reading.
Despite a slow start against the Dodgers, Kendrick settled down and improved to 6-3. He's now 5-0 with a 3.46 ERA in eight starts at home.
"I just keep doing what I'm doing," he said. "After the first couple of innings, I started to come in more. I left a few balls out over the plate in the early part of the game."
The win, coupled with the Mets' 7-6 victory over the Padres, leaves Philadelphia tied atop the National League Wild Card race with San Diego.
"We expect to go out there and win," shortstop Jimmy Rollins said. "The guys who come up to replace the injured guys expect to go out there and win."
The Phillies quickly fell behind, 3-0, after two innings. Andre Ethier and Luis Gonzalez collected RBI hits in the first, and Russell Martin laced a solo home run in the second.
Martin became the first catcher since Pudge Rodriguez in 1999 to hit 15 home runs and steal 20 bases in a season.
But the Phillies came right back with two runs in the third on an RBI double by Carlos Ruiz and a sacrifice fly by Rollins, scoring Ruiz.
In the fourth, Ryan Howard led off with a double and Aaron Rowand followed with his 21st home run of the season, giving the Phillies a 4-3 advantage.
Howard singled in the seventh and then recorded his first Major League stolen base. After the game, Howard was asking how he could secure the base as a souvenir.
"I'm working on my base as we speak," Howard quipped.
The Phillies are working on a run to the playoffs for the first time since 1993. It would be quite a story if they get there with the amount of obstacles they've had to overcome.
"It would sure cap the story with a new playoff story to come," Myers said. "Why not? I said before that heart takes you a long, long way."
Andy Jasner is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less