video thumbnail

Must C Clutch: Ibanez's walk-off home run in the 10th

PHILADELPHIA - Roy Halladay walked to the bullpen and warmed up in the rain Friday night at Citizens Bank Park.

He wondered why.

"At some point, it crosses your mind if we're making the right call," he said.

Halladay might have had a frustrating beginning to his final start before the All-Star break, but he left the ballpark happy the Phillies played following a dramatic 3-2 victory in 10 innings over the Atlanta Braves.

Halladay pitched seven strong innings following a one-hour, 54-minute rain delay, which involved the tarp being pulled back onto the field following Halladay's pregame warmups.

Carlos Ruiz hit a game-tying homer in the fourth. Michael Stutes, Antonio Bastardo and Juan Perez each pitched scoreless innings in relief -- Perez struck out the side on nine pitches in the 10th -- to set up Raul Ibanez, who crushed a game-winning home run to right field that gave the Phillies the first victory in this big three-game series.

Philadelphia and Atlanta entered the weekend as the two best teams in the National League. They played like it.

"We're very similar," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "They're younger than us, but as far as big potential, they have some young hitters that have a chance to be very good. They've got depth in their bullpen. They can come at you.

"They used all those lefties up. That kind of helped us."

The Braves had left-handers Eric O'Flaherty, Jonny Venters and George Sherrill face the Phillies in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings with success.

That set up right-hander Scott Proctor to pitch in the 10th.

"The report had him as high as 97," Ibanez said. "He's got a good arm and he's got good stuff."

But Proctor fell behind, 2-0, when he threw Ibanez a 94-mph fastball. Ibanez crushed the ball to right field for a game-winning home run. It was the third homer Proctor had allowed in his past 6 1/3 innings pitched.

"It's definitely a good feeling, but you definitely don't try to do that," Ibanez said. "You don't try to do too much right there, but you try to get a good pitch to hit and drive it. And when that happens, there's not a better feeling as a player."

It was just the way the Phillies wanted to start an important series against the Braves before the All-Star break. They extended their lead over the Braves in the National League East to 3 1/2 games with Cliff Lee pitching Saturday and Cole Hamels pitching Sunday.

The Braves and Phillies each scored runs in the second and fourth innings to keep the game tied at 2 entering the 10th.

Halladay and Ruiz typically are in perfect sync, but a passed ball, wild pitch and two singles helped the Braves score their first run in the second. But it wasn't a problem between Halladay and Ruiz. Halladay simply had trouble gripping the ball because of the humid and wet conditions. It did not help that the rosin bag was soaking wet. He summoned a dry one from the Phillies' dugout, which helped.

Halladay retired 11 of the final 12 batters he faced. He allowed six hits and two runs in seven innings, striking out seven. Stutes and Bastardo each pitched a scoreless inning, but Perez stole the show when he struck out the side on nine pitches in the 10th. He is the first Phillies pitcher to accomplish the feat since Andy Ashby on June 15, 1991.

"Their bullpen was outstanding," Braves third baseman Chipper Jones said. "We didn't mount much. We hit a couple balls hard in the ninth, but for the most part, they were spot on. It was a great game."

Halladay got a no-decision, but the Phillies got the win. The Phillies have won each of Halladay's last 10 starts.

He will pitch in a little rain for that. Comments