Phillies 8, Pirates 4, 1st game; Phillies 8, Pirates 3, 2nd game

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PHILADELPHIA (AP)—Brett Myers wants to make sure Philadelphia has a strong finish even if the rest of the season has been a disappointment.

Chase Utley had three hits and two RBIs, and the Philadelphia Phillies rallied for a six-run seventh inning to complete a doubleheader sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates with an 8-3 victory Wednesday night.

In the opener, Todd Pratt hit a three-run homer and the Phillies beat the Pirates 8-4 to clinch consecutive winning seasons for the first time in 21 years.

The Phillies (83-75) are eight games over .500 for the first time this year and one game ahead of Florida for second place in the NL East. Florida starts a four-game series on Thursday at Philadelphia.

“We’re still playing for second place,” said Myers, who earned the win. “Everything else might be out of reach, but there’s a certain sense of being in second place, finish up strong and see what happens next year.”

Philadelphia’s Bobby Abreu reached base in nine of his 10 plate appearances — eight straight before flying out in the fifth. He had four hits, four walks and reached on an error.

The Phillies—86-76 a year ago—are assured of consecutive winnings seasons for the first time since 1982-83. In 1983, the Phillies reached the World Series and expectations were that high coming into this season with a $93 million payroll that included a new All-Star closer, a revamped bullpen and a promising starting rotation.

Instead of supplanting Atlanta in the NL East, the Phillies were eliminated from playoff contention Monday night and there has been speculation about manager Larry Bowa’s future.

“It’s not where we all thought we would be, but it’s better than a losing season,” Pratt said.

Injuries and inconsistency spoiled the Phillies’ first season in their new ballpark and made its “Now Is The Time” slogan—proudly imprinted on spiffy red shirts they wore in spring training—a setup for a bad punchline on Philadelphia sports talk radio.

“Anytime you start the season, you want to win more than you lose,” Bowa said. “We’ve done that three of the four years I’ve been here.”

Now Bowa hopes to get a shot at five.

The Phillies trailed 3-1 in the seventh inning of the nightcap before scoring five unearned runs against reliever Salomon Torres (7-7).

After the Phillies tied the game 3-all on shortstop Jack Wilson’s one-out throwing error, Torres walked Jason Michaels to load the bases with two outs. Then Utley poked a two-run, opposite-field double to left for a 5-3 lead.

Mike Lieberthal then chased Torres with a two-RBI double.

“We botched a double play ball and things went downhill from there,” manager Lloyd McClendon said.

That made a winner of Myers (10-11), who was pinch-hit for in the seventh after giving up six hits and three runs in his longest outing since Sept. 5. Felix Rodriguez and Billy Wagner each worked a scoreless inning.

Bowa accepted Myers’ request to pitch the season finale on Sunday.

“I felt a lot better than I have in a while and everything was working for me,” Myers said. “I want to get back out there one more time and hopefully finish the season at .500.”

The Pirates wasted a solid effort by starter Ryan Vogelsong, who allowed only a run and four hits in five innings after failing to record an out in his previous start.

Pittsburgh staked him to a 3-0 lead in the third on Jason Bay’s 26th homer, bolstering his rookie of the year bid.

Wilson had two hits in the doubleheader, leaving him one shy of 200 this year.

In the first game, Philadelphia backed Vicente Padilla (7-7) with a five-run second on Pratt’s second homer of the year and RBI singles by Pat Burrell and Placido Polanco.

The Phillies made it 8-4 in the seventh on a two-run triple by Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley’s sacrifice fly.

Padilla allowed four runs and six hits in five innings. He gave up Ty Wigginton’s 17th homer of the year, a three-run shot to left in the second, and a Jack Wilson sacrifice fly.

Rheal Cormier, Ryan Madson and Tim Worrell pitched four scoreless innings of relief.

Ian Snell (0-1) gave up 11 hits, five walks and eight earned runs in five innings in his first major league start. He was the 11th different pitcher to start this year for Pittsburgh.

“He just elevated some pitches and they hit the heck out of them,” McClendon said.


The game was a makeup of Tuesday night’s rainout. It was the first twi-night doubleheader in the first season at Citizens Bank Park. … Pittsburgh’s Rob Mackowiak grounded into only his second double play of the season in the opener, then lined into one in the nightcap. … The Phillies improved to 39-38 at home. … Phillies 1B Jim Thome missed both games, still suffering from discomfort in his chest resulting from a collision on Sept. 15. Bowa said Thome had an EKG.

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