06/24/07 9:45 PM ET
Victorino's clutch pinch-hit boosts Phils
Outfielder belts three-run double in rainy finale vs. Cardinals
By Ken Mandel / MLB.com
The switch-hitting Victorino didn't start for the first time since June 2, and annoyed teammates for nearly eight innings, until manager Charlie Manuel called his number with two outs. Victorino, who between antics had taken swings in the cage, was ready."I was having fun today with the guys on the bench," said Victorino, who added that he heard "shut up" on more than one occasion. "I was trying to keep myself somewhat busy." Though Victorino is a natural right-handed hitter, St. Louis manager Tony La Russa brought in lefty reliever Randy Flores, because Victorino has hit better from the left side this season. He righted that on Sunday, stroking a double just out of the reach of left fielder Chris Duncan, who appeared to have a shot at the ball. With the runners moving on a 3-2 pitch, all three easily scored. "He knows when to flip the switch," said Barajas, who returned Victorino spraying by nailing him with sunflower seeds. "I was one of 24 guys yelling at him to take his medicine. He's wild, but knows when it's time for business." The business was keeping the Phillies within three games of the National League East-leading Mets, who come to Citizens Bank Park next weekend after the Reds come to town. Victorino's teammates weren't the only ones getting wet. A downpour delayed the start of the game for 22 minutes, and another caused a 96-minute rain delay in the middle of the fourth inning. That forced Manuel to go to his bullpen, taking starter Cole Hamels out of the equation. Once a rain delay reaches 45 minutes, Manuel typically won't let his starter return, despite Hamels' wishes. Hamels threw 48 pitches, and 77 in his previous outing, a far cry from his typical 100-plus pitch efforts. "I felt I had two extended bullpen sessions," Hamels said. "I asked [Manuel] as a joke if I could go out there in two days and pitch. I feel when I get 100 pitches in, that's a good day. It helps out in the long run when you don't throw a lot. I wanted to be out there [after the delay]. They explained it to me, but I don't think about that." Relievers Ryan Madson, Brian Sanches, Clay Condrey and Antonio Alfonseca made that work, tossing six scoreless innings. The Phillies are 11-5 in Hamels' starts. While the state of Hawaii will likely celebrate Victorino's winning hit, Texas was well represented with Sanches, Condrey and Michael Bourn, who had three hits and two RBIs. Sanches and Condrey are both from Beaumont, while Bourn is from Houston. "We'll take that for the Lone Star State," said Condrey, who tossed a five-pitch eighth inning and joked, "When was the last time you saw me do that?" Victorino's double gave Sanches his first Major League win in his 21st Major League appearance. He got the scorecard and a ball from an umpire's pouch, since Antonio Alfonseca tossed the final out into the stands. "I guess [the] 21st is the charm," Sanches said. Whether the charm carries over remains unknown, the Phillies take satisfaction from a road trip in which they likely lost Jon Lieber for the season. Philadelphia recovered from a 1-2 trip through Cleveland with a 2-1 trek through St. Louis. "That's why I tell you to play," Manuel said. "You have to play. You don't have a crystal ball, so you keep right on playing. You don't ever know what's going to happen. Hopefully, it's good. Today was good."
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.