Rollins blasts grand slam as Phillies roll
Shortstop records career-high five RBIs in victory
PHILADELPHIA -- It's been a long time since Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins received a rousing curtain call.
He earned one on Saturday with his second career grand slam, turning a sixth-inning two-out deficit into a three-run lead. Center fielder Shane Victorino went deep two pitches later and the Phillies beat the Cardinals, 14-6, in front of 45,182 at Citizens Bank Park.
Rollins added an RBI double in a sixth-run seventh, giving him a career-high five RBIs on the afternoon.
"I would've taken a two-run single, a double, anything to score the run -- at least tie the game," Rollins said. "That was my job, to at least find a way to tie the game. But the ball went a little further, and everybody was able to score."
After a rough three months, Rollins seems to have found his stroke. Since snapping a career-worst 0-for-28 stretch on July 2, he is 30-for-84 (.357) with three homers and 16 RBIs over 20 games.
His average has jumped over 30 points -- albeit to .237 -- a major boost as the Phillies enter their stretch run.
"I always thought he would hit, as far as finding his swing," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "Sometimes it takes a while. But at the same time, if you stay at it and you work on it -- he's a good hitter. And he'll find his swing."
That swing, Manuel said, is now short and explosive. When Rollins struggles, his stroke gets longer and he jams himself on slow pitches.
Hitting coach Milt Thompson had also talked about Rollins' two-tap, a mechanism in his stride that prevents him from jumping at the ball. After abandoning it amid his early-season struggles, Rollins finally went back to the tic at the beginning of July.
He is, after all, a guy who won the 2007 National League Most Valuable Player Award, when he hit 30 homers (and stole 41 bases).
"I think he did it once, he could do it again," Manuel said about Rollins' current 30-homer potential. "But I don't want him to start trying to hit home runs. ... If you hit the ball correctly out in front, stuff like hitting home runs take care of themselves.
Rollins was not trying to homer on Saturday. But he deposited a 96-mph, middle-in, belt-high fastball into the right-field seats for the Phillies' eighth grand slam of 2009, tying a club single-season record.
Not wanting to be outdone, Victorino smacked a 93-mph fastball over the right-center-field wall. It was the sixth time this season the Phillies have gone back-to-back. For a Majors-leading fifth time, the 28-year-old center fielder finished with four hits.
"It's a good situation where you can have two leadoff hitters, two guys at the top who steal bases successfully and find a way to spark the team," Rollins said. "Shane's been doing a great job. He's having a great year. ... It's just a testament to his teacher."
The Phillies, who could not deliver the big hit on Friday, scored 13 of their 14 runs Saturday with two outs. Rollins fondly recalled their former backup catcher, now a member of the Astros.
"Two-out hits win games," Rollins said. "That's something Chris Coste used to stay, and it couldn't be truer."
Rodrigo Lopez was the beneficiary of the well-timed run support. Trying to somehow remain in the Phillies' rotation once Pedro Martinez returns, Lopez improved to 3-0 after surrendering four runs, three earned, in six innings. He pitched neither particularly well nor particularly poorly, scattering 10 hits, but allowing solo homers to Ryan Ludwick and Rick Ankiel.
Pedro Feliz delivered a key two-run single to left-center -- with two outs -- in the Phillies' three-run first inning. First baseman Ryan Howard joined the party late, doubling in the team's final two runs in the seventh.
The Phillies could have done more damage had it not been for Ankiel. With two outs in the second inning and Victorino on second, Chase Utley hit a fly ball to deep right-center field and Ankiel made a leaping catch at the wall to end the inning.
Ankiel was at it again in the third, this time robbing a sure home run from Jayson Werth. With Raul Ibanez at first, Werth hit a shot to deep center that Ankiel acrobatically pulled down and quickly tried to fire to first base to get Ibanez, but his throw was off line.
The game was delayed for several minutes in the top half of the seventh while security personnel searched for the owner of a laser pointer, which had been aimed at Cardinals shortstop Julio Lugo and first baseman Albert Pujols. There was another laser incident in the eighth, although that one did not cause a stoppage.
But not even that odd dispute, a 14-run outpouring and an effective performance from Lopez could subdue conversations about Roy Halladay.
Asked if the Phillies' potent offense might not need an elite pitcher after all, Manuel replied: "No, you need pitching. What stops good hitting? Good pitching."
And Rollins seemingly tried to leverage his career day into a lobbying career.
"For the first time in how many years, we've actually had enough guys in the Minor Leagues to acquire a guy like Roy Halladay," Rollins said. "They're asking a steep price, there's no doubt about that. But to get a guy of Roy's caliber to come and pitch for you, anybody will take that, almost regardless of what the asking price is."
David Gurian-Peck is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.