© 2007 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.
08/30/07 8:05 PM ET
Phils win wild one to finish sweep
Division deficit now just two games after fifth straight victory
By Ken Mandel / MLB.com
PHILADELPHIA -- For a moment, forget all the stuff that happened before -- which is plenty of stuff. Just remember Tadahito Iguchi's open-mouthed, arms-high-over-head show of jubilation earned with scoring the winning run of Philadelphia's most important win of 2007. Realize now that the details of Thursday's thrilling and potentially playoff-catapulting 11-10 win won't likely fade soon; the matinee is a sure ticket-stub-saving event for the 42,552 fans at Citizens Bank Park, regardless of what colors were worn. The ones in red had a much better time. "Any kind of team that goes on to win a World Series is involved in a lot of comeback wins and games that create a lot of momentum for your team," Iguchi said, through interpreter David Yamamoto. "This is an important game for our team and it means a lot." Iguchi should know about that World Series thing, as a member of the 2005 White Sox, who did just that. So should Aaron Rowand. "This is up with two or three games that I've been a part of where you walk away shaking your head," said Rowand, who referenced the "A.J. Pierzynski play" in Game 2 of the '05 ALCS. "I know after we won a game like that, it was like, 'Nobody's going to beat us.' You can take a lot away from a game like this." Perhaps Shane Victorino said it best. "I almost had a heart attack," he said. "We're just finding ways to win. You have to win these kinds of games. You have to. I can't fathom what happened, so I'll just enjoy the ride." The ride was bumpy and included several flat tires. Forget the fact that Philadelphia blew a five-run lead, then a three-run lead that brought the Mets within six outs of a series-salvaging win that would have shifted some of the momentum up I-95. That wasn't going to happen. So desperate for a win was Mets manager Willie Randolph that he sent closer Billy Wagner to protect a two-run lead for the final two innings. Philadelphia got one back in the eighth on Pat Burrell's second homer of the game and fourth of the series. The ninth belonged to Jayson Werth, who started the rally with a bloop single to left. Briefed by Wagner's former teammates about Wagner's deliberate approach to the plate -- and tendency to sometimes not check a runner -- Werth stole second and third on consecutive pitches. That brought the Mets' infield in, and Iguchi muscled a ball into left field off Wagner, a pitcher he'd never faced. Abusing the information, Iguchi then stole second, setting up an intentional walk to Jimmy Rollins. Chase Utley, one of the players most admired by Wagner, singled past Carlos Delgado on Wagner's 45th pitch. Players mobbed Iguchi the second he arrived at the plate, then swarmed to Utley. Easily the biggest win of the season, the Phillies will wake up in Florida on Friday trailing the Mets by two games in the National League East and either the Diamondbacks or Padres by two games in the NL Wild Card race. Hello, momentum. "With  games to go, we're still two back," said Rollins, who batted .474 in the series. "No matter how you look at it, we're not in the lead of anything. Right now, we still don't get to the playoffs." Still, there's a huge difference between two back and four back. "That's real big, but there are still games to make up," Rollins said. "When you're playing a team ahead of you, you want to beat them heads up and not rely on everybody else to help." The Phillies pounded their way to a 5-0 lead on home runs by Ryan Howard, Burrell and Rowand. Kyle Lohse, who had posted a 3.95 ERA in his five Phillies starts, didn't make it out of the fourth. Manager Charlie Manuel pulled him after he allowed a pinch-hit RBI single to Lastings Milledge for the Mets' third run. Geoff Geary escaped that jam, but allowed two runs in the fifth to tie the score. Undaunted, Philadelphia lashed for three two-out runs in the fifth, on a walk to Werth, run-scoring bloops by Carlos Ruiz and pinch-hitter Victorino, and a RBI single by Rollins past a diving Luis Castillo. That lead evaporated when J.C. Romero, Antonio Alfonseca and Jose Mesa handed the Mets five runs in the eighth, highlighted by Endy Chavez's bases-loaded, two-run single to tie the game, and Jose Reyes stealing third and heading home when Ruiz's throw skipped past Abraham Nunez and into left field. "We could easily have had the wind taken out of our sails," Greg Dobbs said. "But we bounced back and got it done." Of these, such details don't matter. The standings do, and the Phillies see a much smaller gap between them and first place. The deficit sat at seven after the Phils dropped a 4-3 game to the Padres on Aug. 25. It's now two. "We've come back all year and that shows a lot," Manuel said. "It does wonders for us." With a sweep of the Mets, the Phillies sent a loud message that was heard throughout the league, but really didn't need to go much further than the clubhouse walls. "It's the message we sent to ourselves," Howard said. "We know we're in it."
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.