Phillies 10, Pirates 7
PITTSBURGH (AP)—Randy Wolf was too sick to pitch at his best, not that it mattered. The game was much too big to think about missing, so he didn’t tell anyone how bad he felt, not even his manager.
Jim Thome drove in three runs as the Philadelphia Phillies shook off two weekend losses in Pittsburgh to quickly open an eight-run lead, then held on for a much-needed 10-7 victory Sunday over the Pirates.
Wolf (15-9), the Phillies’ most reliable starter when they need an important victory, pitched 6 1-3 innings despite being up most of the night sick. He also helped himself with two hits as Philadelphia avoided a three-game sweep by the non-contending Pirates.
By losing Friday and Saturday, the Phillies fell 2 1/2 games behind Florida in the NL wild-card race—the furthest they’ve been behind since June 26. They got back to within 1 1/2 games Sunday when the Braves rallied with five runs in the ninth to beat the Marlins 8-4.
“This was a great day for us, an awesome day,” Thome said.
Now comes a big series. On Tuesday night, Florida begins a three-game set at Philadelphia; the Marlins are 9-4 against the Phillies and have beaten them eight straight times.
Manager Larry Bowa said sweeping isn’t a necessity, but, “If you don’t take every game like it’s sudden death now, you’re going to be home, watching on TV. There’s got to be a sense of urgency. You’ve got to try to win every game. You’ve got to go for perfection. You’ve got to try to sweep people.”
And, of course, avoid being swept. With the Phillies in danger of falling 3 1/2 games back, Wolf didn’t dare tell Bowa that a room service order of garlic chicken made him violently ill early Sunday morning.
“He didn’t tell anybody until I took him out of the game,” Bowa said. “I knew he didn’t have his good stuff, and he took a lot of deep breaths out there. It tells you he’s stubborn and a gamer.”
Wolf didn’t want to force Bowa to start someone else on short notice in perhaps the Phillies’ biggest game of the season so far.
“I didn’t want to tell him,” Wolf said. “It was nice to see us score a lot of runs early—it was a big game for us, so I knew I could forget about it for a couple of hours.”
Following a pattern in which they seem to score either a lot of runs or only a few, the Phillies jumped out to an 8-0 lead in the second against Salomon Torres (5-5) and reliever John Grabow, who was making his major league debut.
The Phillies have scored eight or more runs 32 times in 150 games but have been held to three or fewer 57 times. They lost 5-3 Saturday night when pinch-runner Nick Punto was picked off second to abort a potential ninth-inning rally.
Torres, sharply criticized by manager Lloyd McClendon for his lack of effort in a 10-4 loss Tuesday in Cincinnati, didn’t make it out of the second. He allowed the first four batters of the game to reach base, walking two, and the Phillies quickly made it 2-0 on Bobby Abreu’s single and a double-play grounder.
“It seemed like I was out there overthrowing and never got into any rhythm,” Torres said. “I made some bad pitches and really paid for it.”
Wolf had a run-scoring double in the second—he has 11 RBIs—ahead of Jimmy Rollins’ run-scoring single and Thome’s two-run double. Nine of the 13 batters Torres faced reached base. Grabow came on to give up run-scoring singles by Ricky Ledee and Chase Utley.
The Phillies scored twice more in the third against Grabow on singles by Wolf, Marlon Byrd and Abreu ahead of Thome’s grounder that was misplayed by second baseman Jeff Reboulet for an error, scoring two runs. Thome was credited with one RBI.
The Pirates trailed 10-1 then, but came back on homers by Carlos Rivera in the seventh off Wolf and Craig Wilson and J.J. Davis in the eighth off Rheal Cormier. Davis’ homer was his first in the majors.
Former Pirates closer Mike Williams pitched the ninth for his 27th save in 34 opportunities and his third in five chances since being traded by Pittsburgh.
The Pirates lost their 80th in 148 games and are two losses away from a club-record 11th consecutive losing season. … The Phillies are 34-13 when they score in the first. … Thome had 10 RBIs in six games against Pittsburgh, but the Pirates won the season series 4-2. … The Phillies get their first day off Monday since Aug. 18. They went 13-14 while playing on 27 consecutivedays.