Phillies trounce Marlins to stay in first place
Ruiz, Werth, Utley, Dobbs all leave the yard to pace offense
MIAMI -- Charlie Manuel marveled at some of the hard-hit balls Monday at Sun Life Stadium.
Phillies right fielder Jayson Werth hit an opposite-field home run in the second inning in their 11-4 victory over the Florida Marlins, which helped Philadelphia maintain its one-game lead over the Atlanta Braves in the National League East. Carlos Ruiz crushed a two-run home run to left field in the fourth. Chase Utley and Greg Dobbs each hit solo homers, and Marlins right fielder Mike Stanton crushed a double to center field in the eighth inning.
"You know what was good about that?" Manuel said. "I got to see it."
Somebody joked that Manuel nearly missed it. Shane Victorino's bat flew into the visitors' dugout when he struck out swinging in the fourth inning.
Manuel got out of the way, but barely.
"Nah, I had that bat all the way," he insisted. "I did. I started to try to catch it, really. I had it. I had it. I saw it. The old man can still move every now and then."
It was one of the few moments when Manuel's heart might have been beating faster than normal. The Phillies built an early 4-0 lead, thanks to homers from Werth, Utley and Ruiz in the first four innings. The Phillies scored three runs in the fifth and three more runs in the sixth to take a 10-0 lead.
The Phillies' offense sucked the life out of Sun Life.
OK, not really. The ballpark did not have a pennant-race feel Monday, and it will not Tuesday or Wednesday, either. The Marlins announced 20,616 tickets sold, but far fewer showed up.
Conversations could be heard throughout the park.
"We're used to playing with 45,000 people," Werth said. "Here we had [4,000]? It's tough to play in an atmosphere like that sometimes. Yeah, it was good to get out to that early lead. But at the same time, you can't just let all the air out of the tires and relax, because this game is crazy. Anything can happen."
Phillies right-hander Joe Blanton knows about playing baseball in front of small crowds in football stadiums. He played for the Oakland A's from 2004-08 before they traded him to the Phillies.
"It's not uncommon for me," he said.
The lack of electricity in the park did not bother him. He allowed five hits, one run and two walks and struck out six innings to improve to 7-6 with a 5.00 ERA. Blanton is 4-1 with a 3.50 ERA (29 earned runs in 74 2/3 innings) in 12 starts since the All-Star break. He went 3-5 with a 6.41 ERA (57 earned runs in 80 innings) in 13 starts before the break.
"My changeup really helped me," Blanton said. "It really pulled me through."
Nothing helped Marlins left-hander Andrew Miller, who allowed seven runs in four innings last week against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. He allowed nine hits, seven runs (five earned), three walks and three home runs in five innings Monday.
"Good lineup, but ultimately, I didn't make enough good pitches tonight," Miller said. "I felt good. It's kind of a similar story to the other night, I felt like they certainly didn't miss any mistakes. They're a good-hitting team. I made far too many [mistakes]."
Miller (1-2) shouldn't feel too bad. Since the Los Angeles Dodgers shut out the Phillies at Dodger Stadium on Aug. 30, 3-0, the Phils have hit .295 and averaged six runs per game.
Ruiz went 3-for-4 with four RBIs. He has hit .343 (48-for-140) with 10 doubles, one triple, five home runs and 34 RBIs in 44 games since July 26. Werth went 2-for-4 with two RBIs. Victorino and Wilson Valdez, playing again in place of injured shortstop Jimmy Rollins, also had two hits.
"It gives you a lot of wiggle room," Blanton said of the run support. "It gives you an opportunity to be really, really aggressive out there."
The Phillies have proven they can hit Miller. They will try to prove they can hit Marlins right-hander Adalberto Mendez on Tuesday. He threw six shutout innings against them last week at Citizens Bank Park.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.