Brown, Howard Lift Phillies to 5-4 Walk-Off Win Over Nationals
PHILADELPHIA—Domonic Brown didn’t even make it to second base.
He connected. The ball carried. Ben Revere touched home. The bench emptied. Brown was swallowed, seemingly whole, by a sea of white with red pinstripes, celebrating as uplifting a walk-off win as they come.
Brown roped a two-out single up the heart of the Nationals defense off reliever Fernando Abad for a 5-4 Phillies win at Citizens Bank Park tonight. Coupled with Ryan Howard’s first home run in 52 at-bats, and second in 117, the two pillars of the Phillie order came through when needed.
It didn’t look so promising in the eighth and ninth innings. After a decent five frames from starter John Lannan and two perfect ones from Mike Stutes, Mike Adams and Jonathan Papelbon let a 4-2 lead slip. Adams’ run was his fourth in his last 6 1/3 innings over seven appearances. Papelbon’s, a Chad Tracy solo shot to right, made for his first blown save in 14 opportunities this season.
But Revere and Jimmy Rollins singled in the bottom of the ninth. Rollins swiped second to take away a force opportunity. Only one out. Then backup catcher Steven Lerud, hitting cleanup in place of Michael Martinez, who pinch ran for Howard in the eighth, went down on strikes.
Then Brown did was Brown has done: win games for the Phillies.
How many can the two of them as a tandem secure?
Howard is warming. He’s hitting .346 in 52 at-bats this month. The Phillies are 8-1 when he leaves the yard this season, and 25-8 when they plate at least four runs.
Brown is maintaining. He’s hitting .291 with a .947 OPS this month. If they can catch stride at the same time, this Phillies season has hope. Fleeting, flickering hope. But hope.
The win pulls the Phillies within three games of .500.
They had played 70 games this season, you could argue, without their anchor, Howard, exceling. They’ve played only three against the division leading Braves, and four against these Nationals. The Phillies calendar shows only cupcakes and National League East foes this month.
GM Ruben Amaro said before the game Chase Utley could start a rehab assignment within the next “24-48 hours,” that Utley need few rehab games before returning and that Amaro might accelerate Carlos Ruiz’s timetable.
See what I mean?
There was more to be had tonight.
After a Michael Young leadoff triple and walks from Jimmy Rollins and Howard, the Phillies had the bases loaded with one out in the third. Domonic Brown finished a horrid at-bat with a strikeout. Howard overshot third base, stop sign and all, on a Delmon Young two-run double for the third out.
They again loaded the bases in the eighth, off leadoff singles from Howard and Brown and, after John Mayberry Jr. struck out and Freddy Galvis popped out, Humberto Quintero getting plunked in the hand and face. Laynce Nix went down on straight pitches.
The bullpen was again problematic. Though Papelbon couldn’t stay perfect forever.
Lannan, making his first start off the DL two months to the day after landing on it and against the team that twice named him Opening Day starter and once paid him $5 million to dwell in the minors, was less than sharp. He required 92 pitches to get through five innings and threw only 54 strikes. But he was effective enough, surrendering only two runs despite six hits and a walk.
Ups and downs aside: singular efforts from Brown and Howard rendered all of it an afterthought.
Now, the line of thinking is forward: How long can it last? How high can they take the Phillies?