Pence Protects, Howard Bashes In Phillies 7-4 Win

Pence Protects, Howard Bashes In Phillies 7-4 Win

Hunter Pence was greeted to a standing ovation as he ran out to right field, acknowledging his new fans on a warm Saturday night at Citizens Bank Park. The fans weren't necessarily cheering Pence's performance on the night, at least not initially, as the newest Phillie went 1-5 in his debut in red pinstripes. They were just happy to have the All-Star outfielder on the club to help get them that typically elusive late October parade down Broad Street.

Pence eventually gave the fans a real reason to cheer him after starting the night 0-4 at the dish. (To his defense, he was robbed of a single in the second inning when he showed off his hustle and legged out a shoulda-been infield single. First base ump Angel Hernandez called him out despite Pence clearly beating the throw. Charlie Manuel defended his new guy and gave fans a chance to get their "Char-lie! Char-lie!" chants on as he argued.)

He had a chance to turn his night at the plate around late in a close game and didn't disappoint. Ryan Howard's new five hole protection delivered big in the eighth inning.

Clint Hurdle and the Pirates opted to intentionally walk the Big Piece after Shane led off the inning with a triple and Utley pulled a failed squeeze attempt.

That brought up Pence with a chance to do some real damage. He ripped a single up the middle, earning his first RBI as a Phillie and putting them up 7-4.

But the Phillies didn't really need a big contribution from the new guy, at least not tonight, as Ryan Howard, Chooch, and Jimmy Rollins were swinging hot bats while Cliff Lee lasted 7.2 innings.

Lee pitched well for most of the evening before getting into some trouble in the eighth. He allowed 4 runs on 8 hits while striking out 11 through his 7.2 innings of work. Antonio Bastardo came in to get the final out in the eight and did so by striking out Pedro Alvarez swinging.

Phife Dog also ripped a pair of hits on the night, and accounted for one of the Phillies runs when he scored on an Utley single to put the Phils up 4-2 in the fourth. Later in on in the seventh, Cliff almost legged out an infield single on a close play on a routine ball to short. Gotta respect this guy's hustle.

Ryan Madson did his thing in the ninth, striking out the side in a 1-2-3 inning to earn his 18th save of the season.

Ryan Howard Cycle Watch

The Big Piece was swinging an extremely hot bat on Saturday, finishing the evening 4-4 with an IBB and 3 RBIs. He also blasted a long solo shot deep into the ivy in center. Howard later bashed a ball to the warning track in left center, right in front of the wall Utley bounced an inside the parker off just the other day, and Andrew McCutchen got his glove onto the ball, but couldn't hold on. Needing only a triple at the time to complete the cycle, Ryan Howard was in all out sprint mode as he approached second. He eventually realized it was not meant to be and pulled up, content with the double.

Not a bad overall night at CBP. Pence makes his debut to warm ovations and the Phils bats do plenty to give Cliff Lee a victory after a real nice outing.

Final score: Phillies 7, Pirates 4

Earlier: Hunter Pence Grateful for Chance to Win in Philly

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Look at Pence's hustle! And socks!

Joel Embiid posts amazing tribute to Sam Hinkie on Instagram

Joel Embiid posts amazing tribute to Sam Hinkie on Instagram

The treasure trove that is Joel Embiid's social media presence unearthed another jewel on Saturday evening.

The Sixers' big man took to Instagram to post a picture of himself chatting with local folk legend Sam Hinkie. As if that wasn't enough, check out the captions he wrote at the bottom.

THE GOAT #HeDiedForOurSins #TrustTheProcess

A photo posted by Joel Hans Embiid (@joelembiid) on

Let us break this down.

"THE GOAT" - As in Greatest Of All Time, not an actual goat you would find at your local petting zoo.

"#HeDiedForOurSins" - St. Sam, patron saint of analytical basketball martyrdom.

"#TrustTheProcess" - The rallying cry of the masses.

Sure, they may have taken away Sam, but they'll never take away JoJo's social media platforms. Never!

Union have no answer for Didier Drogba, Impact in 5-1 loss

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Associated Press

Union have no answer for Didier Drogba, Impact in 5-1 loss

MONTREAL  -- Didier Drogba broke out with a hat trick to lead the Montreal Impact to a 5-1 victory over the Union on Saturday night.

The 38-year-old Ivorian striker hadn't scored since May 28. He returned last week after missing three games with a thigh injury.

Ignacio Piatti returned after sitting out a one-game suspension to score a goal and add two assists. Recent signing Matteo Mancuso, who went in for Drogba in the 79th minute, got his first MLS goal in added time.

Montreal improved to 7-5-8.

Chris Pontius scored for Philadelphia (8-7-6).

Odubel Herrera's bat returns, but so do Aaron Nola's struggles in loss to Pirates

Odubel Herrera's bat returns, but so do Aaron Nola's struggles in loss to Pirates

PITTSBURGH -- The good news for the Phillies on Saturday was that it finally seems All-Star Odubel Herrera's bat is returning to its typical, productive form.

The centerfielder had his second straight three-hit game Saturday as he continued to pull out of his slump, though it wasn’t enough to keep the Phillies from losing 7-4 to the Pittsburgh Pirates in the middle game of a three-game series at PNC Park (see Instant Replay).

Yet Herrera’s suddenly hot bat gave the Phillies some reason to feel good on a day when another player who the organization believes can be a foundation player backslid. Right-hander Aaron Nola (5-9) took the loss as he allowed six runs and six hits in four-plus innings.

The bad Nola returned after pitching six scoreless innings in his previous outing Monday against the Miami Marlins. Prior to shutting down the Marlins, Nola allowed a combined 30 runs in five starts while failing to get past the fourth inning four times.

“When he’s at his best, he has control of all his pitches,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. “He’s lost his control and he needs to a find a way to get it back.”

However, Herrera improved to 6 for 9 in the series by going 3 for 4 with a triple, two runs scored and two stolen bases. He had been 4 for 41 in his previous 11 games before coming to Pittsburgh, a skid that dropped his batting average to .281 from .300.

“It was getting pretty ugly for about a week there, so it feels good to get some hits,” Herrera said. “That’s my job, to get hits, be successful and help the team win. I really don’t go into too many slumps, so it’s hard to try to fight your way through it and stay positive. When I get a hit, I am happy.”

Herrera is now hitting .290 with 10 home runs and 33 RBIs in 98 games.

There had been a school of thought that making his first All-Star Game appearance July 12 at Petco Park in San Diego might have had an effect on the 24-year-old. The schedule for the players during the festivities is basically non-stop for two days and then Herrera had to fly across the country to rejoin the Phillies in Philadelphia for the second half of the season.

“I was concerned it might have an effect on him,” Mackanin said. “It was the first time he had participated in an even of that magnitude and it can be hard to refocus after that.”

Herrera, though, said he is not sure how much being an All-Star played into his cold spell.

“Maybe it did,” Herrera said. “It was a busy couple of days there. I don’t know what to compare it to because I hadn’t been before. Obviously, I didn’t have the same chance to rest as a lot of other players, so it could have had an effect. However, playing in the All-Star Game was a great experience and I am glad I had a chance to be there.”

If Herrera plays like he has the last two games, Herrera figures to appear in more Midsummer Classics before his career is through.

“He has the ability to win a batting title,” Mackanin said. “He’s that good of a hitter. He’s a smart hitter. When pitchers start adjusting to him, he adjusts back. I only see him getting better.

“Then you throw in that he played a heckuva center field and it’s just an impressive total package."