DENVER The Phillies were down to their last strike Monday night when John Mayberry Jr. launched a game-tying two-run home run in the ninth inning. An inning later, Shane Victorino clubbed a solo home run to provide the Phillies with the margin of victory in a spirited 4-3 win over the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field.
The win propelled the Phillies to a season-high 30 games over .500. They have the best record in the majors and are firmly on course to win their fifth straight National League East title.
Clearly, things are going well for the Phils.
But manager Charlie Manuel is taking nothing for granted.
Twenty minutes after the Phils win on Monday night, Manuel sent word through the clubhouse that he wanted to see Victorino in his office.
Though the skipper was thrilled by Victorinos go-ahead homer in the 10th, he didnt send for Victorino because he wanted to offer congratulations. Manuel wanted to let his centerfielder know that the base-running he exhibited in third inning was unacceptable.
Victorino was on first base when Chase Utley launched a ball off the wall in the right-field corner. Victorino got nailed at the plate as rightfielder Seth Smith and second baseman Mark Ellis hooked up on a nice relay to the plate. Victorino was out because he did not get a good jump off first base with two outs. Manuel reminded Victorino that a miscue such as that could lose a game.
I shouldnt be out there, but I was, a repentant Victorino said. I didnt get a good secondary lead. Im upset at myself.
Victorino more than atoned when he hit a full-count fastball from lefty Rex Brothers over the left-field wall to break a 3-3 tie in the 10th. As Victorino crossed home plate, he pointed at his parents, who had flown in from Hawaii and sat behind home plate.
With the homer, Victorino became the first player in the majors this season to have double digits in home runs, doubles, triples and stolen bases.
After the game, Victorino gave all the credit to Mayberry. His two-run, pinch-hit homer off closer Huston Street tied the game with two outs in the ninth.
The home run capped off an excellent eight-pitch at-bat for Mayberry, who fouled off two pitches before launching a full-count slider into the left-field seats.
The interesting thing about Mayberrys game-tying homer was it came an inning after Hunter Pence left two men in scoring position when he struck out to end the top of the eighth. The Phillies traded for Pence on Friday because they didnt believe Mayberry, Domonic Brown or Ben Francisco could hold down the right-field spot and be a productive, every-day bat in the middle of the order.
Im ready for whatever chance Charlie gives me, Mayberry said.
Mayberry saw all sliders from Street and he wasnt surprised by that. The Stanford product faced Street when the right-hander pitched for the University of Texas.
Im well aware of his arsenal, Mayberry said. I was just trying to do what the situation called for, trying to keep the rally going and not make the last out.
Mayberrys shot cleared the left-field wall with ease, but he wasnt sure it was gone off the bat.
I was just hoping and praying it would go over, he said. It feels great to be in that situation. Just awesome.
Mayberry was only in that situation because Carlos Ruiz doubled to left with two outs in the ninth to keep the game going.
That kept the game close so we had a chance in the late innings, Manuel said.
Hamels struck out the dangerous Tulowitzki on a gutsy, full-count changeup.
He threw everything he had at him, Manuel said. Hamels battled and won the battle.
You have to be a talented club to be 30 games over .500. The Phillies are that, but wins like Monday nights show they have some character, too.
I think weve been together for a long time and know how to play in close games, Manuel said. We make mistakes, but we play good enough to get over them.
Manuel was referring to Victorinos base-running mistake in the third inning. By the 10th inning, Victorino was one of the heroes of the night.