Phillies 8, Rangers 5
PHILADELPHIA (AP)—Jon Lieber is no longer pitching like an ace, even if he’s still winning like one.
Placido Polanco drove in three runs, Bobby Abreu homered and Lieber pitched effectively into the seventh inning to win his third straight start and the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Texas Rangers 8-5 on Tuesday night.
“He took us in the game where we wanted to go,” manager Charlie Manuel said of Lieber.
The Phillies bounced back from Monday’s loss to win for the seventh time in the first eight games of their 13-game homestand and 10 of 12 overall. They continued a recent trend of solid starting pitching, some clutch outs from the bullpen and a couple of fortuitous breaks at the plate.
Not even interleague play made a difference for the Phillies, who faced Texas for the first time.
Before the game, Manuel said he had talked to Lieber (8-4) about his conditioning after a start last month in Florida where the staff ace tired. After pitching eight innings in three straight starts in April, Lieber hasn’t gone past the seventh since May 7. He went 6 2-3 innings Tuesday.
Lieber’s three-game winning streak hasn’t exactly been All-Star caliber. He’s allowed 13 runs in 17 2-3 innings and hasn’t allowed fewer than four runs in a game since that May 7 outing.
Lieber dismissed questions about Manuel’s conditioning concern, saying he feels great.
“It’s the first I’ve heard of it, so I have no idea,” he said.
Lieber gave up two-run homers to Hank Blalock and Rod Barajas in the fourth inning. He struck out five and walked one. His 18 homers allowed are the second most in the National League behind only Cincinnati’s Eric Milton—the pitcher Lieber replaced in Philadelphia’s rotation.
“I’m not making very good pitches in certain key situations,” Lieber said.
Manuel agreed that Lieber’s one bad inning was more a result of poor location than fatigue.
“All of a sudden he makes some mistakes and they make you pay when he does,” he said.
Billy Wagner pitched the ninth for his 15th save.
The Phillies got a single from slumping Jim Thome and a double from Chase Utley to open the second inning against Texas starter Ryan Drese (4-6). Polanco hit a comebacker off Drese’s glove that bounced toward shortstop. Michael Young tried to barehand the ball, but it rolled under his fingers, allowing both runners to score.
“If I could go back, I’d go to my glove on that play,” Young said. “I was just trying to make a play. If I did it over again, I’d play it safe.”
Philadelphia made it 5-0 in the third, scoring on a fielder’s choice and RBI singles from Polanco and Mike Lieberthal.
Drese allowed five runs and eight hits in 2 2-3 innings.
Lieber seemed poised to go seven after getting the first two outs of the inning. He ran into trouble, though, giving up singles to Barajas and pinch-hitter Alfonso Soriano, who did not start because of a sore hamstring.
The Phillies added insurance runs in the seventh on Abreu’s 15th homer, a two-run shot. Polanco was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to make it 8-4.
Cormier gave up a solo homer to Young, who extended his hitting streak to 16 games. Cormier recorded two outs in the eighth before he was relieved by Ryan Madson.
The Rangers selected John Mayberry, a junior from Stanford, with their first-round pick in draft. Mayberry was the 19th player selected overall. His father, John Sr., played 15 seasons in with Houston, Kansas City, Toronto and the Yankees. … The Rangers purchased the contract of INF Marshall McDougall from Triple-A Oklahoma and designated OF Chad Allen for assignment. … Mike Costanzo, a 6-foot-3, left-handed hitting third baseman out of Coastal Carolina, was selected in the second round by the Phillies and joined the organization he rooted for as a kid. Costanzo was a high school standout at nearby Archbishop Carroll and grew up a die-hard Phillies fan. … Abreu has reached base in 29 straight games. … CF Kenny Lofton went 3-for-5, lifting his average to .402.