Phils Shake Off Chicago's Late Rally, Salvage Series Split with 6-4 W

Phils Shake Off Chicago's Late Rally, Salvage Series Split with 6-4 W

For awhile it looked like Chris Volstad would cure what ails the Phillies. A long-time punching bag when he was with the Marlins, the towering righthander did not disappoint early on, as the Phils tagged him for a quick 4-0 lead while batting around in the bottom of the first. That was all they would get off of Volstad though, who settled down and wound up giving the Cubs six innings.

As it turned out, those four runs almost weren't enough, but the Fightins got some timely hitting from one of the old heads.

Vance Worley did his job, allowing one earned over seven frames, but Antonio Bastardo and Chad Qualls gave up three in the eighth to knot the score. The night was beginning to resemble some oh-so-familiar territory in the month of April, during which they dropped several close games in the ninth inning or later, experiencing a devastating combination of ineffective relief pitching and untimely at bats.

That wasn't the case here. The Fightins came right back with two in the eighth, then shut down Chicago in the ninth.

Juan Pierre was plunked on the behind and awarded first base in the bottom half of the eighth. When Jimmy Rollins came up with two outs one batter later, the Cubs proceeded to become very concerned with Pierre attempting to run. After a series throwovers, J-Roll eventually got a chance to swing the bat, and made Chicago pay with a liner into right field. Placido Polanco then followed with undoubtedly his biggest hit of the season.

Polanco drove a Rafael Dolis offering deep to left field past Alfonso Soriano. By the time Soriano corralled the ball and fired it back into the infield, Pierre and Rollins had scored easily, and Polanco was standing on second. It was his third extra-base hit of the season, and accounts for two of his four RBIs in 2012.

Jonathan Papelbon came on to close out the ninth. He surrendered a lead-off walk, but it was smooth sailing from there. Pap sat the next three batters down in order, striking out Tony Campana looking to end the game, securing the 6-4 victory. It is already Papelbon's eighth save of the season.

A win is a win, even against the Cubs, but the big takeaway has to be escaping April just one game below .500 with an 11-12 record. For as awful a start to the season the Phillies have had, they are just 3.5 games back of the Washington Nationals for first place in the NL East, this while playing without two of their biggest stars in Chase Utley and Ryan Howard.

Speaking of the NL East, the Phils begin the first of three consecutive series against division rivals in Atlanta tomorrow, when Cole Hamels goes head-to-head with Brandon Beachy.

Notes:

- The Phillies offense produced a strong all-around game. All eight of their starters produced on some level, most with at least one run or RBI -- the lone exception being Ty Wigginton, who had two hits. Carlos Ruiz and Pete Orr combined to knock three runs home from the seven and eight spots in the order.

- Qualls picked up the win despite giving up the game-tying, two-run homer to Bryan LaHair in the eighth.

- Volstad entered the game with a 2-5 record, and a horrific 5.88 ERA in 12 appearances versus the Phillies.

You'll love Dario Saric even more after watching him on PST's Quick 6

You'll love Dario Saric even more after watching him on PST's Quick 6

We love you, Dario Saric.

For you being you, and not just a significant part of the Sixers' process.

And if you don't enjoy the Croatian Sensation, you most certainly will after watching him open up during a fun game of "Quick Six" on CSN's Philly Sports Talk.

From orange juice and beer, to his gluteus and T.J. McConnell's hair, Saric discussed plenty.

The questions had him feeling all over the place. But he was terrific.

Dario Saric, Philadelphia Sixers, Philadelphia 76ers, Philly Sports Talk

For the full video, watch above.

Steve Mason rediscovers himself in New York just before Flyers return

Steve Mason rediscovers himself in New York just before Flyers return

It had been a while since Steve Mason saw himself.

Walking into the Barclays Center on Sunday, the Flyers’ goalie was 0-6-2 with a 4.03 goals-against average and .844 save percentage over his last 10 appearances (see more recent Flyers numbers and stats).

A far cry from how Mason truly sees himself in net.

But heading into Wednesday’s rivalry clash with the Rangers, Mason will have something to build on, something he couldn’t say since Dec. 21 — the last time he had earned a victory. He’s fresh off his first win in over a month, a gigantic one for Mason considering all the key moments on Sunday the Flyers hope invigorate his confidence.

Without numerous clutch stops from their goalie, the Flyers don’t come back from two goals down to beat the Islanders, 3-2, in overtime. Mason made four saves  — three on four-time All-Star John Tavares — in just over a minute of a third-period power play. The Flyers ended up having to kill two New York man advantages in the final 10 minutes of regulation in order to force overtime.

The extra session is when Mason was just as good, if not better, stoning Tavares on a breakaway attempt that had game-winner written all over it. Mason made four saves in overtime after 13 in the third period.

“I was happy with the way that, personally, this game went for myself,” Mason said Sunday. “It’s been a tough stretch and this is more the type of game that I expect of myself. In recent games, the team was lacking the big saves and tonight it shows what kind of difference it can make.”

It was a massive performance heading into a massive three-game stretch against the Rangers, Maple Leafs and Hurricanes.

“Mase made some huge saves for us,” Simmonds said. “It allowed us to get back in that game.

“It’s not just Mase [with the] ups and downs. Everyone in here has been kind of fighting it and squeezing sticks pretty tight. That one felt good and I think Mase led the charge for sure.”

Mason understands just one game doesn’t turn around a season.

“It’s nice to feel good after a game,” Mason said. “At the same time, whether you’re winning or losing, you have to have a short mindset and get ready for the next one.”

That brings the Flyers to Madison Square Garden Wednesday to face the Rangers, who they’ve lost five straight games to dating back to last season. Mason hasn’t had much luck against New York this season, allowing seven goals in two losses with an .860 save percentage. However, in 2015-16, Mason put up a 1.74 goals-against average and .941 save percentage in five games against the Rangers.

“That’s going to be a tough game going into MSG,” Mason said Tuesday (see story).

The good thing: Mason was in New York two days ago, remembering what he can be.