It wasn’t the prettiest game for the Phillies, but in another sense it would be tough to draw up a winning game as textbook as Friday’s 5-4 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals at Citizens Bank Park.
Facing Adam Wainwright, the winningest pitcher in the league for the past two seasons, the Phillies rallied from a three-run deficit with a gritty four-spot in the third inning in which they took advantage of an error and played solid station-to-station ball.
More telling was a gutsy outing from righty starter Kyle Kendrick, who gave up three runs in the first (surprise), but retired the last 13 of 15 he faced before turning it over to the lights-out bullpen trio of Jake Diekman, Ken Giles and Jonathan Papelbon.
The quartet did not allow a baserunner following Matt Carpenter’s one-out single in the fourth, getting 16 of the last 17 hitters for outs.
Indeed, the Phillies beat Wainwright with eight singles, no extra-base hits and after allowing three runs in the top of the first.
"It’s a long game -- you have to keep battling,” said Kendrick, who improved to 6-11 with his 6 1/3 innings.
“You just have to battle. I don’t know if you guys know me that well, but I am a competitor and I don’t want to lose. So I have to keep battling that is what you do, keep making pitches, keep grinding and try to keep your team in the game and we scored some runs off him.”
Kendrick, whose first-inning problems have been well-documented (9.69 ERA with a .329 opponents batting average), was a different pitcher as the game progressed. He faced eight hitters in the first inning and threw two first-pitch strikes. After that, he threw first-pitch strikes to 13 of the final 19 he faced.
“I had to throw strikes,” Kendrick said.
“He fought and hung in there and what he did was he started working ahead with early strikes,” manager Ryne Sandberg said. “It made a big difference.”
More importantly, he didn’t let the game get out of hand. Even with Wainwright on the mound, the Phillies pieced together a run in the first inning on an infield single from Ben Revere, a walk to Jimmy Rollins and an RBI ground out from Ryan Howard.
In the game-breaking third inning, Kendrick started the rally with a single to right while singles from Revere, Howard and Carlos Ruiz set up or drove in runs. Ruiz’s two-out single to center helped the Phillies back into the winning run when Howard rounded third too far, but scored when the throw from Matt Adams skidded past the third baseman Carpenter. A throw anywhere near Carpenter gets Howard diving back into third and ends the inning.
“We got some men on base and did the little things to get them in,” Sandberg said. “We put the ball in play.”
Give Revere credit for setting the tone for the team at the plate throughout the game. That was especially the case in the first inning when he quickly fell behind 0-2 in the count, fouled off three straight pitches and beat out a swinging bunt for an infield single.
Revere saw 19 pitches in his four at-bats and laced out three singles with a pair of runs. In doing so he not only set the table for the offense, but also boosted his batting average to .315, second to Colorado’s Justin Morneau for the league leadership.
The plan, according to Revere, was to make Wainwright throw a lot of pitches and show some patience, which worked well. Wainwright was out of the game after throwing 105 pitches in just six innings.
“Wainwright is a great pitcher, so I was trying to be more patient and see more pitches since I hadn't faced him since last year,” Revere said. “I just tried everything I could do.
“When you get him early, that's when you can beat him down. They had that three-run lead, but we battled back.”
In doing so the Phillies have won three out of the last four games during the homestand after dropped four of five on the road. They also won consecutive games for the first time since sweeping the Astros from Aug. 5-7.
The series continues Saturday night when rookie right-hander David Buchanan (6-7, 4.25) faces Cardinals righty Shelby Miller (8-9, 4.25).
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