Trailing by four runs heading into the ninth inning of their latest game, it appeared the Philadelphia Phillies would have to settle for trying to finish their 10-game homestand with eight wins.
Instead, the Phillies will look to capitalize on the momentum of a stunning comeback and make it nine victories in 10 games at home as they go for a sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday.
Philadelphia (47-38) has taken almost full advantage of its longest home stretch of the season thanks to some excellent pitching. The Phillies posted a 2.25 ERA in the first nine games of the homestand and are seeking their fifth win in a row.
Manager John Russell opted to bring in closer Matt Capps(notes) - who had pitched once in the past eight days - despite the non-save situation, and the move backfired. Matt Stairs(notes) hit a leadoff homer, Ryan Howard(notes) connected for a three-run shot and Paul Bako(notes) drove in the winning run to give Philadelphia an improbable 8-7 victory.
“That was one of the best wins of the year,” manager Charlie Manuel said.
For Capps, the six hits and five runs allowed were career highs.
“There’s no excuses. It’s all me,” said Capps, who fell to 1-5 with a 6.21 ERA. “I stunk. That was embarrassing.”
Happ is 3-0 with a 3.25 ERA in nine starts since entering the rotation May 23, and he posted a 2.17 ERA in his last four starts despite a 1-0 record in that span. The left-hander allowed three runs and struck out seven over seven innings Tuesday in Philadelphia’s 4-3 loss to Cincinnati.
Happ, who has never faced the Pirates, has a 4.58 ERA at home compared to 1.81 on the road.
Despite the two losses to start the weekend series, Pittsburgh (38-49) has displayed some rare power. The Pirates’ 61 home runs are the second fewest in the majors, but Andrew McCutchen(notes), Delwyn Young(notes) and Garrett Jones(notes) homered Saturday after Jones and Brandon Moss(notes) connected Friday.
Jones, whose only previous major league experience before being called up June 30 was 31 games with Minnesota in 2007, is batting .316 (12 for 38) with four homers and has a seven-game hitting streak.
Virgil Vasquez(notes) (1-2, 4.50) will face the Phillies for the first time. He lasted six innings in each of his first three starts with Pittsburgh, allowing four runs and seven hits in a 4-1 loss at Houston on Monday in his most recent outing.
The only current Phillies player to face Vasquez is Raul Ibanez(notes), the All-Star outfielder who played Saturday for the first time since going on the disabled list June 18 with a strained left groin.
Ibanez doubled twice in five at-bats and drove in a run in his return.