Role Reversal: Phils Blow Early Lead, Series Tied 1-1

Role Reversal: Phils Blow Early Lead, Series Tied 1-1

The Phillies opened the NLDS with a dramatic come-from-behind victory on Saturday night, mashing their way out of a 3-0 first inning hole. On Sunday, they returned the favor to the Cardinals, losing a 5-4 game they'd led 3-0 after one.

A game billed as an aces' duel ended with 19 total hits, only a pair of which came off of the teams' combined relievers. Cliff Lee opened the game in dominant fashion, and his offense responded by pouncing all over Chris Carpenter in the bottom of the first. Carp looked stressed in his four innings, clearly frustrated by not getting calls he thought he should've. He was pinch-hit for in the fourth to try to keep a Cards rally going, and it seemed a great thing that Tony LaRussa would be going to his bullpen so early.

Unfortunately, the Cardinals' bullpen completely shut down the Phillies' offense, allowing no runs on only one hit through six innings. Their lineup's three-run fourth erased Lee's shutout, and while the Phils floundered against a handful of St. Louis relievers, the Cards found a way to eek out the tying run in the sixth and the go-ahead in the seventh. That spelled the end of Lee's night, and his offense was unable to pick him up.

On the evening after the Eagles choked away a very winnable game, watching the Phils lose a lead was that much more painful. Everything seemed to be going right early on, with Ryan Howard singling in JRoll and Chase Utley, and Raul Ibanez bringing in Hunter Pence all within the game's first frame. Pence added a fourth run when he singled in JRoll in the second, and the Phils looked to be on their way.

Lee threw nine strikeouts, but he saw some Cards hits fall in behind him, and the Phillies couldn't touch the six relievers LaRussa sent out.  

BECAUSE AMERICA WANTS TO HEAR LARUSSA WHINE
In a televised segment from the Cardinals' bullpen, LaRussa complained about the strike zone Carpenter was getting as compared to that of Lee. Carp had nowhere near the command that Lee did early on and clearly didn't have his best stuff. After the game, Lee was asked about the strike zone as well, but he answered with a "Whatever," and proceeded to take his share of the responsibility for the loss without an ounce of blame for anyone else.

LaRussa's players were chirping too, and Jerry Meals continued to have an inconsistent strike zone. However, neither team won or lost because of the calls from behind the plate.

The Phils' veteran bats got off to a great start, but fizzled quickly and left the door open for the Cards to even the series before it heads back to St. Louis.

BRIGHT SIDE
JRoll had three hits and a pair of runs scored. Howard picked up where left off last night, notching a pair of RBI on his first hit. Now he heads home to St. Louis, where he's usually pretty fantastic at the plate. The bullpen was solid, working three scoreless innings. Ibanez connected with Carlos Ruiz to gun down Jon Jay at the plate in the fourth, despite Jay slamming hard into Chooch.

INJURY UPDATE
Albert Pujols has been noticeably hobbled through the series' first two games, and CSN's Leslie Gudel reported after the game that he opted to take a cart ride out of the locker room, as opposed to walking with the team. Pujols had a pair of hits and an RBI on the night. 

BEST OF THE BANK
The sellout crowd of 46,575 was announced to be the largest ever crowd at Citizens Bank Park. Gotta feel particularly bad for the fans who caught both of today's Philly sports losses.

UP NEXT
Cole Hamels faces Jaime Garcia at 5:07 PM on Tuesday night in St. Louis.

Photo by Howard Smith-US Presswire

Ken Tribbett's 1st MLS goal helps Union salvage draw vs. Orlando City

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USA Today Images

Ken Tribbett's 1st MLS goal helps Union salvage draw vs. Orlando City

BOX SCORE

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Ken Tribbett scored his first career MLS goal in the 75th minute and the Philadelphia Union tied Orlando City 2-2 on Wednesday night.

Tranquillo Barnetta started the scoring in the 52nd minute on Philadelphia's first shot on goal. Chris Pontius outjumped his defender to win a diagonal cross and headed it to the back post for an unmarked Barnetta.

Then the game opened up with three goals in a 7-minute span.

Kevin Molino tied it in the 68th -- one minute after entering as a substitute. Cyle Larin collided with two defenders and the goalkeeper while battling for a long ball and Molino knocked the loose ball into an empty net.

Three minutes later, Larin gave Orlando City a lead on a questionable goal. Kaka played a ball across goal, Larin chested it off the goalkeeper and Philadelphia's Fabinho appeared to clear it off the line.

Tribbett evened it for Philadelphia (5-3-4) when goalkeeper Joe Bendik dove to get a touch on a cross and Tribbett slotted home the rebound.

David Mateos was given a straight red card for Orlando (3-3-6) in the 93rd minute for a studs-up tackle just outside of the box. But Barnetta's free kick sailed harmlessly over the crossbar.

Watch: Nerlens Noel dominates the American Ninja Warrior wall

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Watch: Nerlens Noel dominates the American Ninja Warrior wall

The American Ninja Warrior television show is hosting a regional competition on May 26th and 27th at the Richmond Power Plant in Philadelphia.

A Comcast SportsNet camera crew was there on Wednesday to tape a segment for a show next week when they recognized a familiar face in the crowd.

Sixers big man Nerlens Noel was there supporting a friend practicing on the course. Noel also gave the wall a go and it proved no match for his length.

Contestants will compete on Thursday and Friday in Philly with a chance of qualifying for the finals to be held in Las Vegas.

If you think you've got what it takes, head on over and try to be a walk on talent. You probably won't do any better than Nerlens though.

Odubel Herrera flips Phillies into winners over Tigers before big trip to Wrigley Field

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Odubel Herrera flips Phillies into winners over Tigers before big trip to Wrigley Field

BOX SCORE

DETROIT — At least Odubel Herrera was honest about it.

“I didn’t expect to hit it that far,” he said with a big grin on his face late Wednesday afternoon.

A couple of hours earlier, Herrera helped key an 8-5 Phillies’ win over the Detroit Tigers with a towering three-run home run into the right-field seats against Anibal Sanchez (see Instant Replay).

Herrera unloaded on the hanging slider and finished with his bat high.

As the bat reached its apex, Herrera didn’t just let it go. He flipped it in the air as if to say, ‘Uh-huh, I crushed that one.’ In the annals of bat flips, it wasn’t quite Jose Bautista quality, but it wasn’t far off. The flip was so dramatic that Herrera admitted after the game that he would not have been surprised if a Tigers pitcher had retaliated and stuck a pitch in his ribs later in the game.

Retribution never came. And Herrera left Detroit with a smile on his face and yet another big day for the Phillies. He is leading the club with a .327 batting average and his .440 on-base percentage is second-best in baseball.

Herrera's big home run helped make a winner out of Aaron Nola and the Phillies on a day when they really needed a win. After all, they had lost four of their previous five and are headed into the den of baseball’s best team, the Chicago Cubs, on Friday.

“For me, it was a must-win,” said manager Pete Mackanin, whose club is 26-21. “We’d lost four of five and I felt like we needed to come out of here with a win.

“The guys battled the whole game. To me it looked like they played like they had to win this game, which was nice to see. It looked like they played knowing we had to win. They were grinding and coming up with hits. Call it what you want, it was just the feeling I got.

“I’m not going to say I’m anxious to see the Cubs; they’re a hell of a team. But I’m hopeful we can take two out of three.”

The Tigers are one of baseball’s best hitting teams.

The Phillies are one of the worst. They entered the day scoring just 3.2 runs per game.

But on this day, the Phillies out-hit the Tigers, 12-10, to salvage one game in the series.

Nola went six innings, allowed four runs, a walk and struck out six. He left with a 7-4 lead. Things got hairy in the seventh, but Hector Neris cleaned up things for David Hernandez, and Jeanmar Gomez registered his majors-leading 17th save.

In between, Peter Bourjos had a couple of big hits, including his first homer of the season. Andres Blanco started at second over Cesar Hernandez and had a couple of big hits, as well. Bourjos and Blanco even hooked up on a double steal with Blanco becoming the first Phillie to swipe home since Chase Utley in 2009. (An off-line throw to second by Tigers catcher James McCann helped.) 

“We have to try things,” Mackanin said. “We can’t bang it out with most teams so we have to try that kind of stuff, take chances.”

The Phillies actually banged it on this day.

Bourjos’ homer in the seventh provided some valuable cushion.

There are no cheap homers in spacious Comerica Park. Bourjos’ homer traveled 401 feet according to ESPN’s play by play.

Though Bourjos claimed he did not see Herrera’s bat flip in fifth inning, he was aware of it. For the record, Bourjos did not flip his bat on his homer. He put his head down and ran.

“I don’t have that kind of swag,” he said with a laugh.

Bat flips make some folks, particularly old-schoolers, uncomfortable. Bautista’s famous bat flip against Texas in the playoffs last season led to simmering tensions all winter and eventually a brawl between the two teams two weeks ago.

Mackanin actually seemed a little uncomfortable talking about Herrera’s flip.

“I did not see it,” Mackanin said. “A lot of players believe that they should be able to celebrate. But I didn’t see it. I wish you never brought it up.”

Herrera explained that he always flips his bat, even when he makes outs. This one had a little extra oomph, he said, because, "I didn’t expect to hit it that far.”

And how far did he hit it?

Well, ESPN’s play by play said it traveled 409 feet. MLB’s Statcast said it went 427.

Either way, that’s a long Uber ride.

Herrera was asked what was more impressive, the flip or the homer?

“Both,” he said with a laugh.

Herrera has become a more demonstrative player in his second year in the league. He’s letting his emotions show. On Monday night, frustration over a poor at-bat got the best of him. He did not run out a ball back to the pitcher and was benched.

On Wednesday, his emotion was more triumphant, hence the bat flip. But sometimes that can make an opponent angry. There were no repercussions Wednesday and probably won’t be because the Tigers and Phillies don’t see each other again this season. But down the road?

“I’m not worried,” Mackanin said.

“It was nothing personal,” Herrera said. “It was natural.”