Phillies strand 17 but rally in 11th to snap skid

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Phillies strand 17 but rally in 11th to snap skid

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NEW YORK -- After watching his team get smacked around in four ugly losses against the Toronto Blue Jays, Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg called a little team meeting before Friday night’s series opener against the New York Mets (see story).

Sandberg got a few things off his chest then left the clubhouse. The players continued the meeting.

Was it productive?

You make the call.

The Phillies didn’t display a particularly efficient offense, but they got some good pitching and managed to grind things out until the night ended with a 3-2 win over the Mets in an 11-inning game that took four hours, 39 minutes to play (see Instant Replay).

"Tonight was a true test," Chase Utley said. "Every win is important."

Utley had a big game. He had three hits and scored all three of his team’s runs. His double in the 11th set the stage for Marlon Byrd’s tie-breaking double. Both hits came against reliever Carlos Torres. Byrd’s double came after he had struck out in each of his first three official at-bats.

After the game, Utley didn’t want to talk about the team meeting, but he did acknowledge that, “it was a good time for it.”

Speaking in general, the de facto team captain said, “We’ve got to continue to grind and pull for each other no matter what happens. You’re going to lose some ballgames. Coming to the field every day prepared to win is the most important thing.”

The victory left the Phillies and Mets tied for the bottom spot in the NL East. Both clubs are 16-18.

After giving up 22 runs in games started by Cliff Lee and A.J. Burnett the previous two nights, the Phillies got excellent pitching from starter Roberto Hernandez and five relievers.

Hernandez allowed seven baserunners in the first two innings, but didn’t break. He gave up just one run in that span. He left after five innings with a 2-1 lead thanks to a pair of RBI singles by Domonic Brown.

Hernandez has put together back-to-back good starts. He has allowed just one run over his last 12 1/3 innings.

Jake Diekman and Mike Adams protected the Phillies’ lead in the sixth and seventh innings, respectively, but Antonio Bastardo squandered it in the bottom of the eighth when he gave up a two-out walk followed by an RBI double to David Wright.

Bastardo came back and pitched a scoreless ninth and Mario Hollands added a scoreless frame in the 10th.

The Phillies left 17 men on base. The Mets left 15.

That's pretty ugly.

Finally, the Phils got something going in the 11th and Byrd was able to break the tie with his RBI double down the right-field line and propel the Phillies to victory. Jonathan Papelbon closed it out for his 10th save.

Sandberg praised Byrd for continuing to battle after striking out three times.

“We couldn’t come up with the big hit until Byrd got that one,” Sandberg said. “He battled and that was a clutch hit, obviously.

“Marlon has a great mentality for that. He always grinds it out and he’s always positive. He wants to be that guy. It was good to see him come through or we might still be out there.”

Phillies prospect Nick Pivetta has long-awaited meeting with Roy Halladay

Phillies prospect Nick Pivetta has long-awaited meeting with Roy Halladay

CLEARWATER, Fla. – Phillies pitching prospect Nick Pivetta had one of those pinch-me moments Saturday.

He met his boyhood idol, Roy Halladay, at a charity event.

Someone had filled in Halladay that Pivetta had grown up in Canada and had regularly watched Toronto Blue Jays games on television. Pivetta loved watching Halladay pitch, as he talked about a few weeks ago here.

“I got to briefly shake his hand,” Pivetta said Sunday morning. “He knew I was like a stalker. He said, ‘Oh, right, you’re the guy from British Columbia.’ “

Halladay, who pitched for the Phils from 2010 to 2013, lives in the Clearwater area. Pivetta said he expected to speak more with Halladay in the coming days.

Halladay was honored at the 44th annual Clearwater For Youth banquet and Pivetta attended with a number of his teammates and Phillies officials. Phillies chairman David Montgomery and his wife Lyn were also honored for their charitable works.

Pivetta will pitch for Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic in March.

Phillies manager Pete Mackanin: Adam Morgan is a definite bullpen candidate

Phillies manager Pete Mackanin: Adam Morgan is a definite bullpen candidate

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Just pitch.
 
Don’t worry about the role.
 
Just pitch.
 
That’s Adam Morgan’s mindset this spring.
 
“I’m just trying to show whoever needs to see it that I can be an asset to this team,” the left-hander said after his spring debut against the New York Yankees on Saturday (see story). “I’m just keeping it simple that way. I’m not trying to go out for that fifth (starting) spot. If the fifth spot opens up, I’d be more than willing to do that. If they want to put me in the bullpen, I’d be more than willing to do that. If they want me to be the backup catcher, I’ll be the backup catcher.”
 
The Phillies have plenty of candidates for backup catcher.
 
And the top five spots in their starting rotation, barring an unforeseen development, are accounted for.
 
But there is a way for Morgan to make this team.
 
“He’s definitely a bullpen candidate,” manager Pete Mackanin said.
 
Mackanin is on record as saying he’d like to have two lefties in what likely will be a seven-man bullpen. It might not work out that way, but that would be Mackanin’s preference.
 
Morgan is one of what appears to be four candidates along with Joely Rodriguez, Cesar Ramos and Sean Burnett. Ramos and Burnett are experienced major-league veterans in camp on minor-league contracts. Rodriguez is the only pure lefty reliever on the 40-man roster. Morgan, of course, is on the 40-man roster, but he’s mainly been a starter in his career.

There’s a long way to go in spring training and it would not be surprising to see general manager Matt Klentak add to the list of lefty relief candidates with some type of pickup before the end of camp.
 
But for now, it’s just these four.
 
Morgan, who turns 27 on Monday, started and pitched two scoreless innings against the Yankees on Saturday and will likely continue to have his innings stretched out throughout the Grapefruit League season, just in case he’s needed as a starter.

Ramos and Rodriguez both pitched an inning Saturday. Ramos allowed a hit and a run. Rodriguez had a clean inning. Burnett was tagged for two hits and two runs on Friday.
 
Morgan made 21 starts for the Phillies last season. He also made two relief appearances and finished the season with a 6.04 ERA. He was sent to Triple A in July and returned in mid-August. He made nine starts after returning and pitched at least six innings and gave up two or fewer earned runs in four of them.
 
During his time in Triple A, Morgan started throwing a two-seam fastball or sinker. He’s continued to throw it this spring and believes it will help him.
 
“I learned to trust the two-seamer last year and that’s what I hope to keep moving forward with,” he said.
 
Will it take him to the Phillies’ bullpen?
 
He hopes so. He got a taste of relieving last season and liked it.
 
“Oh, yeah, I loved it,” he said. “Every time the phone rang down there, I was on high alert. It was awesome. It’s a rush.
 
“But wherever I land, I land. I’d be willing to play anywhere on this team.”