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Phils sneak from behind, beat O's
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07/03/2004 10:43 PM ET 
Phils sneak from behind, beat O's

Pat Burrell reacts after driving a foul ball onto his left foot in the fifth inning Saturday. (George Widman/AP)
PHILADELPHIA -- A bad bounce helped erase the memories of Friday's 16-inning loss.

And that one crazy bounce led to a come-from-behind, 7-6 series-evening win on Saturday.

Jim Thome strode to the plate in the eighth mired in a frustrating 0-for-12 skid, which included six straight strikeouts during one stretch. He laced a sharp grounder toward short that appeared to be an out, except it took a wicked high hop to over the right shoulder of third baseman Luis Lopez -- playing there because of the severe overshift.

With Thome now dancing off first, David Bell drove a pitch he liked over the left-field wall to tie the game at 6. Jason Grimsley didn't think the pitch had enough go.

"A guy hits a fly ball to left, 29 ballparks in this league, it's an out," Grimsley said. "You know the dimensions here aren't what they say. It's a lot shorter, not even close (to what they say). But I have to make a pitch that he can't elevate."

Bell's response was curt, and to the point.

"So," he said with a smile.

Exactly. The next batter, Mike Lieberthal singled to left, representing the go-ahead run, and Jason Michaels put Lieberthal in scoring position by drawing a walk. Switch-hitter Tomas Perez batted for the Phillies, and Baltimore manager Lee Mazzilli countered with B.J. Ryan, as Perez is a much weaker hitter from the right side this season.

Chess match aside, Perez singled past the glove of Lopez and into left field. It didn't matter that Michaels got caught in a rundown between second and third. The Phillies had taken the lead.

So there.

"He got me yesterday. I got him today," said Perez, who added that he prayed the ball would find his way into the outfield.

The Phillies kept the lead, thanks to Billy Wagner sealing it in the ninth inning for his 12th save. That save wasn't without incident, as pinch-hitter Javy Lopez nearly smacked a slider for a home run, but the ball curved about 10 feet foul.

"Because it was a slider I thought it was going to go foul, so for once I got lucky," he said. "It's about time I got lucky."

The important win moved the Phillies two games in front of the second-place Marlins in the National League East.

It also erased memories of an inconsistent starting rotation, and another subpar performance from Kevin Millwood, who was more lucky than good on Saturday. The Phillies' ace struggled through 6 1/3 innings and allowed five runs. His ERA climbed to 5.07.

He knew his outing was going to be important, especially after Friday's 16-inning party. But he wilted after the Phillies gave him a three-run lead in the first, thanks to a two-run homer by Placido Polanco and an RBI double by Bell.

Millwood gave it back by allowing two runs each in the second and third innings, then gave up a fifth run in the fifth, a homer to Miguel Tejada. He's as confused as ever as to what he's doing wrong.

"I don't have a clue what I need to do right now," he said. "I've looked at video. I've done things on the side, to try to change my routine up a little but, and it still feels like I go out and give up four or five runs. If I knew what was wrong, I would change it."

And that's the worst part.

"So far, it's been the most frustrating year I've had," said Millwood. "It's easy to take when guys smoke the ball and they're hitting the ball all over the place. It's a little different when you make good pitches and guys lob the ball over the infield, and balls go through on the ground, there's not much you can do about it. That's probably the most frustrating thing about it."

Rheal Cormier, who allowed a homer to Lopez -- his first hit since May 31 -- but got the win to move to 4-3.

Phillies starters have had a 7.77 ERA over the past nine games. Since June 24, no Phillies starter has pitched more than five innings and allowed fewer than four runs. Eric Milton, Sunday's scheduled starter, pitched six innings and allowed two runs in that start -- and the Phillies lost that game.

"As a group of starters right now we are going through some tough times," said Bowa."

Bell made those tough times easier to take on Saturday.

"He has been a rock for us in terms of coming up big for us," said Bowa.

Of course in typical Bell fashion, he didn't allow himself to enjoy the moment for too long.

"A couple of seconds," he said. "You can think about how you tied the game and how you might have another chance to help win it. Obviously, it's a good feeling, but in this game, there's no time to celebrate anything. That's the great part of the game too."

Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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