Philadelphia is opening a 12-game, 14-day road trip that includes stops on both coasts. After visiting San Francisco and Arizona this week, the Phillies travel to face the New York Mets and Washington next week as they try to protect their wild-card lead.
“This is the longest road trip of the year and biggest road trip for us,” outfielder Jason Michaels said. “We have games against the Mets and Nationals, and no other division in baseball has every team in it like we do.”
The Phillies have plenty of teams on their heels in the chase for the wild card. Houston is one-half game back, Florida is one game out, Washington is 1 1/2 games behind and the Mets are three back.
“Every game now is important, and I don’t know any other way to say it, but every game is like a playoff game now,” catcher Todd Pratt said. “But we’re still battling for the division, with the wild card still there, too.”
Philadelphia has moved within 3 1/2 games of first-place Atlanta in the NL East by going 22-14 since the All-Star break, including a 4-3 win over Pittsburgh on Sunday. Michaels scored on Bobby Abreu’s tiebreaking double in the seventh inning and closer Billy Wagner survived a shaky ninth inning for his 30th save.
“When I have the opportunity to change the game, I’m going to try and do it,” Abreu said.
The Phillies hope slumping leadoff hitter Jimmy Rollins will get going on the road trip. Rollins was hitless in four at-bats Sunday and is batting .159 (13-for-82) over his last 19 games.
Rollins was a major catalyst in Philadelphia’s three-game home sweep of San Francisco from May 31-June 2, hitting .500 (7-for-14) with four RBIs. The Oakland native has hit just .212 (11-for-52) in 12 career games at SBC Park.
San Francisco stopped a three-game skid with a 4-2 win at St. Louis on Sunday. Jason Schmidt pitched seven scoreless innings and Edgardo Alfonzo’s two-run single capped a three-run fourth inning for the Giants.
Alfonzo, though, has been in a major slump. The third baseman is batting .154 (4-for-26) with no extra-base hits over his last seven games.