"We haven't been playing the best ball, but it's definitely a good win to go home with," Ryan Howard said.
The Phillies witnessed numerous nutty things in a 7-6 victory in 11 innings over the San Francisco Giants. They watched Tim Lincecum dominate their lineup before Giants manager Bruce Bochy surprisingly pulled him in the ninth. They watched Jayson Werth hit a two-out, bases-loaded double that dropped just inside the right-field line to clear the bases and tie the game against Giants closer Brian Wilson. They watched the Phillies take the lead in the 10th, only to watch Ryan Madson blow his second save of the season to send the game into the 11th.
The Phillies scored twice in the 11th and survived the bottom of the inning to avoid a sweep and finish 4-5 on a nine-game road trip through Atlanta, Arizona and San Francisco. The Phillies do not play Thursday, but open a three-game series Friday against the New York Mets at Citizens Bank Park.
That's the first-place Mets, by the way.
"They're in first, so now we have to take it from them," said Cole Hamels, who allowed nine hits, four runs and four walks and struck out 10 in six innings.
But first they just needed a victory in San Francisco.
Lincecum was marvelous. He retired the first 10 batters he faced and did not allow a run until Howard hit a home run to left field in the fifth inning to give the Phillies a 1-0 lead. Lincecum carried a 4-1 lead into the ninth after Hamels issued a two-out, bases-loaded walk to start a three-run rally in the sixth inning.
But after Lincecum walked Shane Victorino with one out in the ninth, Bochy replaced Lincecum with Wilson.
Lincecum had thrown 120 pitches in his last start. He had thrown 106 when Bochy got him.
"These aren't easy decisions," Bochy said. "I'll say this: There'll be other times. We have to take care of this kid. There'll be games we feel like he can go; other times, I've got Willie ready and he's going to hopefully help save these guys a little bit of work. We're lucky to have a closer like this. He just had bad luck today."
Manuel said he wasn't surprised to see Lincecum lifted, but nobody in the Phillies clubhouse minded.
"I guess it's just kind of a new life," Howard said. "The way he had been pitching the entire game, yeah, I guess you just try to seize the opportunity of getting somebody else in there."
"Obviously, when he came out of the game, yeah, you're happy to see the guy leave," Victorino said. "But we're not like, 'Oh, yeah, we're going to do this!' You're still trying the whole game."
Wilson loaded the bases when Werth worked an impressive nine-pitch at-bat to hit a 3-2 fastball for a double down the line. Werth was 1-for-16 with runners in scoring position this season until that at-bat.
David Herndon pitched a scoreless ninth for the Phillies, who took a 5-4 lead in the 10th when Brian Schneider scored on a wild pitch from Jeremy Affeldt. But Madson allowed a run in the bottom half to tie it up again.
Raul Ibanez hit a leadoff single to right in the 11th and moved to second on Ben Francisco's sacrifice bunt. Schneider struck out swinging for the second out, when an unlikely hero, Wilson Valdez, ripped a double off the left-field wall to score Ibanez. Eugenio Velez couldn't make the tough catch, but he had no excuse for dropping Victorino's fly ball, which allowed Valdez to score to make it 7-5.
It was a huge insurance run.
Nelson Figueroa earned the first save of his career, but it wasn't easy. He allowed a one-out single to Bengie Molina. The Phillies had the infield setup for a double play, and it looked like they would get it when Juan Uribe hit a ground ball up the middle. Figueroa tried to move out of the way, but the ball hit off his right knee and deflected toward Howard.
"It would have been easy double play and the game would have been over," Figueroa said. "I see the ball go to Howard, so now I know I have to hustle to first."
He hustled, but Howard's flip missed the mark to allow pinch-runner Eli Whiteside to move to third. Nate Schierholtz, who went 5-for-5, then doubled to right field to score Whiteside and put runners on second and third with just one out.
Velez then hit a ground ball to Howard, who threw home. The throw came to Schneider's right, but Schneider swung his body back to home plate and tagged out Uribe.
Actually, Uribe tagged Schneider. Uribe's hand hit Schneider's glove, which rested on home plate.
"I knew I was out of position because I couldn't put the tag down without seeing the runner," Schneider said. "We're taught when in doubt don't worry about where the runner is, just stick the glove in front of home plate. Luckily, he slid right into my glove. I had no idea where he was."
It seemed like nobody knew what was going to happen next. The Phillies just knew they left the ballpark with a much needed victory and a big series against the Mets on the horizon.