Phils rally to keep up dominance of Mets
Rowand, Rollins the catalysts during key eighth-inning rally
NEW YORK -- Pedro Martinez left the mound after six dominating innings to appreciative roars from the Mets faithful, followed by gushing chants of "PED-RO, PED-RO."Though no Phillies actively participated in the admiration, players were equally as excited, except for a different reason. The 98 pitches thrown signaled the end of Martinez's afternoon, giving the Phillies nine outs against the Mets' bullpen. Time for work. Genius. The switch was punctuated by Jimmy Rollins' two-run triple over the head of center fielder Carlos Beltran -- who erred by first coming in on the ball under a tough sun. That shot was the latest thing to go Philly's way in a 5-3 win at Shea Stadium. "Once [Martinez] finally left the game, everybody breathed a sigh of relief, because we knew we weren't putting much together against him," said Aaron Rowand, who drove in the only run against Martinez and later tied the game with an eighth-inning home run off Pedro Feliciano, the more vulnerable of the Pedros. The victory extended Philadelphia's winning streak over New York to seven and ran its Major League-leading come-from-behind-win total to 45. Yes, 45. "And they're all in the seventh and eighth innings," said closer Brett Myers, who collected his 17th save. "That's what good teams do." The Phillies, who again are rebounding from being left for dead, rallied to their third straight win, this time against the Mets' bullpen, starting with Feliciano. Pinch-hitter Tadahito Iguchi greeted Feliciano with a double to start the seventh, and scored when first baseman Shawn Green committed an error on a Rollins grounder. Feliciano recovered to whiff the side. With Rowand 0-for-5 against him with two strikeouts and lefty Greg Dobbs scheduled to hit second, Feliciano started the eighth. Rowand devoured a curveball to tie the game. Reliever Jorge Sosa then committed a cardinal sin by walking two batters, including pinch-hitter Pete Laforest. That brought up Rollins -- he of the winter's "team to beat" boast -- and the shortstop delivered, and you just knew. Rollins lined a ball at Beltran, who initially took a step in, then retreated as the ball sailed over his head. "I saw [Rollins] hit it real hard and saw [Beltran] take a step forward, and was like, 'Uh oh, this is going to be one that switches gears on you,'" said Laforest, who had a great view. "When I hit it, I thought, 'Dang it, right at him,'" Rollins said. "Then he came in and I was like, 'I thought I hit it better than that.' When I saw him come in, I figured he caught it, but it took off. All things considered, I'm thankful for it." The triple scored pinch-runner Chris Roberson and Laforest, who joked about how much fuel he had left in his 208-pound tank. "I still had some gas," Laforest said. "I was running on diesel, so I was good. It doesn't run as fast, but it lasts longer." Fellow center fielder Rowand can speak to the level of difficulty on the play. "[The sun] was terrible," he said. "It wasn't high in the sky. It was right over the top of the stadium, along with the shadows. It's tough to judge depth, especially when somebody hits a line drive right at you. I guarantee the ball was right in the sun, so he had both things working against him. I was praying nobody hit one like that at me. We just ended up at the right end."
|"When I hit it, I thought, 'Dang it, right at him.' Then he came in and I was like, 'I thought I hit it better than that.' When I saw him come in, I figured he caught it, but it took off. All things considered, I'm thankful for it."|
|-- Jimmy Rollins, on his game-winner|
The way things have gone lately, the Phillies have ended up on the right end regularly, especially against the team that entered Saturday with the best record in the National League. Just like two weeks ago at Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia is getting all the bounces.Still lurking, the Phillies crept to within 4 1/2 games of first place in the NL East, and kept the pressure on Wild Card contenders Los Angeles and San Diego. The Dodgers beat Arizona on Saturday to keep pace with Philadelphia. The Mets portion of the 55,477 fans at Shea Stadium wasn't concerned about the Wild Card. They just wanted to see the Phillies go away, something they refuse to do. The atmosphere showed it. "It had a lot of makings of a playoff game, everything about it," manager Charlie Manuel said. "Big crowds, things going on. Everything." The comeback moved the Phillies to 7-2 in games started by Kyle Lohse. The righty held the Mets to three runs in five innings and survived on an afternoon when he didn't have his best command. A hot bullpen did the rest, tossing four shutout innings. For six innings, it looked like the Phillies had no chance. Few of Martinez's pitches reached 88 mph, let alone the mid-90s of his heyday. The veteran pitches differently now, but he's just as effective. Martinez surrendered one run on seven hits while walking none and striking out nine, including Jayson Werth three times. "He was Pedro," Rollins said. "He hit his spots. He threw good sliders. He established a strike at the knee and then threw the changeup below that. Not only is he a good pitcher, but he's smart. He's got 3,000 strikeouts and 200-something wins for a reason. Today, I'm glad he [came out of the game]."
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.