Phils pound Nats, off to best start since '93
Utley, Victorino combine for three home runs, nine RBIs
PHILADELPHIA -- Only a few hours after leadoff hitter Jimmy Rollins was placed on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday, Shane Victorino came to the ballpark and saw his name at the top of the Phillies' lineup instead. Though just 2-for-17 to start the season, Victorino couldn't resist the urge to needle his injured teammate.
"I told him, 'Be careful, I'm going to take that job from you,'" Victorino said.
It didn't take Victorino long to back up his words. And the Phils quickly answered any lingering questions about how they'll fill Rollins' void.
Victorino broke out for four hits and a career-high five RBIs, pacing Philadelphia's 14-7 display against Washington and extending the Phils' record to 7-1 on the season. It matches the team's best start since 1993.
"This lineup, as an opposing pitcher, it's got to be frustrating," Victorino said.
The Phillies are indeed flying high, winners of six in a row, holding the best record in the league, and seemingly faultless on the offensive end. The Nationals could have just left the bullpen door open all night.
Six pitchers, 14 runs allowed, 14 hits surrendered and 176 pitches thrown represented the final line for Washington's pitching staff, and this without two of Philadelphia's best hitters in the lineup. Rollins was placed on the DL after an MRI revealed a Grade 1 or 2 right calf strain, and right fielder Jayson Werth sat out with a sore hip.
But few could've even noticed. Chase Utley hit two home runs, Ryan Howard had two RBIs, and the top four batters in the lineup went a combined 10-for-18 with 12 RBIs. Even reliever Nelson Figueroa went 2-for-2 at the plate.
"It's one of these things where we have confidence in this lineup, we know that it's not going to take one guy to carry us all the time," Figueroa said. "It makes it a lot of fun to be a part of that."
On a sour note, though, was the poor outing by Phils starter Kyle Kendrick, who lasted only 1 2/3 innings and gave up six runs on six hits and three walks -- his second rough performance of the year.
|"If I got on the mound and I looked at the lineup that we have, the list doesn't stop of guys that give good at-bats. We're doing a lot of good things as a team right now."|
|-- Shane Victorino|
"I think it's just a fact that he's not making good quality pitches right now," manager Charlie Manuel said. "The last two starts he's had, he's had trouble throwing strikes."
Washington jumped out to a 3-0 lead after Kendrick walked two hitters to load the bases with two outs in the first inning and Adam Kennedy roped a bases-clearing double into right-center field. The Phillies responded with a four-run first against Craig Stammen, led by a two-run single by Howard.
Things didn't get better for Kendrick the next inning, though. He allowed a leadoff double to Alberto Gonzalez, then a two-run single by Cristian Guzman three batters later. An RBI double by Josh Willingham knocked Kendrick out of the game shortly thereafter.
Utley gave Philadelphia back the lead with a three-run home run to right field in the bottom of the second, which knocked Stammen out after just 1 1/3 innings.
With both starters out before the third, it was a long night for both bullpens. Figueroa gave the Phils a solid 3 1/3 innings in relief, which managed to stop Washington's offense. The Phillies' offense, though, kept churning.
Victorino gave Philadelphia a 9-7 lead with a two-run homer in the fifth, and Utley added a solo shot in the sixth. His two homers give him four on the year, second-most in the NL.
Victorino, who came into the game with a .227 average in 45 games batting leadoff, broke the game open with a three-run triple in the seventh. He finished 4-for-5 and a double shy of the cycle.
"It's not like I've been having bad at-bats, I hit the ball well in Houston, they just didn't fall in," Victorino said. "Tonight was one of those nights."
Werth pinch-hit in the seventh and is expected to rejoin the lineup Thursday, after leaving Monday's game with a sore hip flexor. Rollins is expected to miss two to four weeks.
The question heading into Wednesday's game was how much Philadelphia's lineup would miss him. And they answered that pretty resoundingly.
"If I got on the mound and I looked at the lineup that we have, the list doesn't stop of guys that give good at-bats," Victorino said. "We're doing a lot of good things as a team right now."
Zach Schonbrun is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.