Phillies 5, Blue Jays 3
PHILADELPHIA (AP)—Adam Eaton is finally rounding into form on the mound.
As for rounding the bases, the Phillies would rather have him save that energy for another inning or two on the hill instead of exhausting it on an 180-foot sprint.
The win put the Phillies (22-22) back at .500 for the third time in five days. At least they can’t fall back under the very next day as they did their first two times; Philadelphia is off Monday before opening a three-game series at Florida followed by three more at Atlanta as it tries to climb back into the NL East race.
The Phillies haven’t been above .500 all season.
“We’re back to .500. That’s all that matters,” outfielder Shane Victorino said.
Eaton (4-3) had his second straight solid outing at home, finally showing signs of living up to the $24.5 million, three-year contract the Phillies gave him in the offseason.
After he failed to get out of the fifth inning in two of his first three home starts, Eaton has pitched into the seventh in each of his last two home outings.
He wasn’t particularly sharp in this one—walking five, striking out two— but was backed by a pair of double plays and a caught stealing to erase some early baserunners.
Already around the 100-pitch mark, Eaton tired after running from first to third on a base hit in the sixth. Manager Charlie Manuel said Eaton “ran out of gas” after he hustled to third on Rowand’s run-scoring single and wanted his pitcher to keep his aggressiveness to going after batters, not taking the extra base with a five-run lead.
“I got a little bit of a hard time for the way I rounded second base, but I felt I got a decent jump,” Eaton said. “Obviously, it might have cost me in the seventh a little bit because my legs were a little bit heavy.”
It almost cost him a win as the Phillies bullpen seemed on the verge of blowing their shot at .500 in the eighth. Alex Rios, Vernon Wells and Matt Stairs all hit solo home runs off Geoff Geary to make it a 5-3 game.
But opening day starter-turned-closer Brett Myers got the final four outs to earn his sixth save and help the Phillies wrap up 7-3 mark on their 10-game homestand.
“There was a hero every night,” Myers said. “There was a person that came up big every game.”
Jesse Litsch (1-1) failed to duplicate the stellar outing of his major league debut against Baltimore. Litsch, who worked into the ninth inning against the Orioles in place of the injured Roy Halladay, walked four and allowed seven hits and four runs in only four innings.
“He didn’t pitch bad for a young kid,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “That’s a good hitting club. He’ll get another start.”
Two of those runs came on solo homers by Burrell and Rowand.
Burrell hit his sixth homer of the season in the second and Rowand led off the third with his seventh.
The Phillies added another run in the third when Greg Dobbs hit a two-out, RBI single to left that made it 3-0.
“I left a lot of balls up, not like last time when I kept the ball down,” Litsch said.
Eaton pitched to the minimum six batters in the first two innings thanks to a couple of double plays the Blue Jays hit into on failed hit-and-run attempts. Wells lined into one in the first and Aaron Hill’s flyout to center allowed Rowand to double-up Troy Glaus at first.
Manuel pulled Eaton after he gave up a leadoff single to Royce Clayton in the seventh. Eaton, who threw 109 pitches, walked off the mound with his head down, then sat in the dugout and watched another heads-up play by the outfield.
This time, Victorino caught Clayton dashing back to second on a flyout to right for yet another double play.
That gave the Phillies a major league-high 20 outfield assists.
I wouldn’t run on the outfield,” Eaton said. “The guys have above-average arms and are very accurate. Even the guys with average arms are still very accurate.”
The Phillies sent LHP Fabio Castro to Double-A Reading, leaving the Phillies without a lefty reliever in the bullpen. … Injured Phillies reliever Ryan Madson struck out two in two scoreless innings in a rehab appearance at Reading. … The Blue Jays will play Baltimore on Monday in the Hall of Fame Game in Cooperstown, N.Y. … The Phillies are 19-12 after getting off to 3-10 start. … Stairs homered in three straight games for the first time since he went deep in four straight in 2001.