There was a point in the season when you felt pretty safe with the Phils leading 6-2 in the ninth inning, but that point certainly hasn't been in the last week, with the Phils choking away leads in five of their last seven games, including a stunning four Jonathan Paplebon blown saves after previously going perfect in save situations for the year. Tonight, however, Papelbon was excused from duty, and though things got a little hairy with ninth-inning man Antonio Bastardo, the Phils escaped without any real damage, securing the four-run win--their largest victory in nearly three weeks, sadly.
The much-maligned Philly bullpen--which was set back even further today with news of the possibly season-long loss of Mike Adams--was mostly let off the hook tonight, thanks to a stellar outing from Kyle Kendrick. After a rough outing two starts ago in Colorado, where he was rocked for seven runs (including two homers) in four and a third, Kendrick appears to have re-discovered the groove that has made this a career year for him, and after a two-run second inning for KK--which was arguably as much about the plays Michael Young and Domonic Brown failed to make in the field as anything Kyle did wrong--he cruised, lasting eight strong innings, striking out six, walking no one and not letting in any further runs. Getting three outs without letting four runs cross isn't nothing for this year's Philly bullpen, but the less we have to ask them to do, the better.
Of course, our pitching did get an all-too-rare assist from our offense tonight, as Dom Brown's homer drought--a season-high 14 games before tonight--finally came to an end on a 2-0 hanger in the third inning, which Dom crushed as a no-doubter to right-center in the third, collecting his 20th longball of the year and putting the Phillies up 3-2. The Phils added to the lead with a couple hits, a couple walks and a wild pitch in the fifth, and that was more than enough to sustain the win. (The seven walks on the game also ties a team-high for the season, so, uh, good eye, guys.)
Series closes tomorrow, with Cole Hamels going against Robbie Erlin, making his second start in the pros. Phils really should be going for the sweep, but will undoubtedly settle for the 2-1 series win, and if Cole can't get it against the Padres and ol' "R. Erlin," it will not bode particularly well for things to come.