Philadelphia (83-71) at Cincinnati (71-82)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Cincinnati, OH
Temp: 23° F
  • Game info: 7:10 pm EDT Sat Sep 24, 2005
Preview | Box Score | Recap

If the Philadelphia Phillies do reach the playoffs, they may look back on Friday’s win as the one that sent them there.

Coming off a rousing victory, the Phillies hope to move closer in the NL wild-card race when they continue a three-game series with the Cincinnati Reds.

Knowing Houston had lost to the Chicago Cubs earlier Friday, the Phillies needed to beat the Reds to pull within one game of the Astros for the wild card.

Home runs by Ryan Howard and Chase Utley in the fifth inning extended Philadelphia’s lead to 6-1, but the Reds answered with four runs in the fifth, three in the sixth and two more in the seventh.

Cincinnati took a 10-6 lead into the ninth before Utley’s second homer of the game, a three-run shot, made it 10-9. Two outs later, David Bell connected for a dramatic two-run shot off David Weathers, lifting the Phillies to an improbable 11-10 win.

“We knew Houston had lost today,” Utley said. “We wanted to get it, and somehow we did.”

Billy Wagner worked a perfect ninth for his 35th save and Philadelphia’s third straight win.

The Phillies remained four games behind NL East-leading Atlanta with eight to play.

“I hope there will be a couple more, too,” said Bell, who grew up in Cincinnati and had relatives in the stands. “There have been a few big games this month.”

Philadelphia has two games left at Cincinnati, hosts the New York Mets for three and closes the regular season with three games at Washington. Six of Houston’s final eight games are against the Cubs.

The Phillies’ bats have sizzled in September as they have scored more runs than any team in the majors. Shortstop Jimmy Rollins has played a key role in the offensive surge.

Rollins singled in the first inning Friday to extend his hitting streak to 28 games, the longest by a Phillies player this century. It’s the longest streak by a Phillie since Ed Delahanty hit safely in 31 straight in 1899.

The streak is the longest in the NL this season and is one shy of Boston’s Johnny Damon, who hit in 29 in a row.

Jacob Cruz, Jason LaRue, Austin Kearns and Ray Olmedo homered for Cincinnati, which has lost five of seven.

“Some crazy stuff has happened,” Kearns said. “It’s been a long year.”

Cincinnati’s 82nd loss clinched a fifth straight losing season, the Reds’ longest such streak since 1945-55.

The Reds’ next home win will assure their first winning home record since 2000. The four straight years of losing records at home was their longest such streak since 1929-34.

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Starting Pitchers

E. Brito NYM vs. E. Milton LAD
1-2 Record 8-15
3.68 ERA 6.47
15 K 123
11 BB 52
1.41 WHIP 1.55