ST. LOUIS (AP)—Shane Victorino typically spends off days relaxing in the dugout. He changed his routine Sunday and the move worked.
Victorino had a pinch-hit, three-run double to break a tie with two outs in the eighth inning Sunday and lift the Philadelphia Phillies to a 5-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals. It was his first pinch-hit of the season and came after he barely fouled off a 3-2 breaking ball to keep the at-bat going.
“Today, for some reason I went to the cage three or four times,” he said. “It turned out for the better.”
Brian Sanches (1-0) pitched two near-perfect innings in his third appearance of the season. His only blemish was a one-out walk to Chris Duncan in the seventh but Duncan was caught stealing one out later to end the inning.
The Phillies have had a string of injuries to their pitching staff this season, including right-hander Jon Lieber who is out indefinitely after an MRI exam on Saturday revealed a ruptured tendon in his foot. The rash of pitchers on the disabled list—Lieber isn’t on it, yet—forced Philadelphia to use Sanches, who joined the club for the first time this season on June 17.
He had pitched just three innings for the Phillies before Sunday.
“It’s a big help,” starter Cole Hamels said, who didn’t return after a rain delay before the bottom of the fourth. “These guys are fighting. When you go out there and put up zeros it’s huge.”
Four relievers followed Hamels, who went three innings and gave up one run on three hits. Ryan Madson pitched two innings before being relieved by Sanches. Clay Condrey and Antonio Alfonseca followed and pitched one inning each. Condrey was sent to the minors on June 13 before being called back today to fill Lieber’s roster spot.
Brad Thompson (5-3) pitched a perfect seventh in relief before allowing two hits and intentionally walking Ryan Howard to load the bases in the eighth. Randy Flores replaced Thompson and gave up Victorino’s first pinch-hit of the season. Flores has allowed 12 of 19 inherited base runners to score this season.
“In that situation we wanted to turn Victorino around,” St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said. “Randy just got the ball up. That’s what it came down to.”
The Cardinals had a chance to make it more interesting in the ninth against Alfonseca. They loaded the bases with two outs but So Taguchi grounded out to end the game.
St. Louis was attempting to earn its third consecutive series victory for the first time since late April. The Cardinals took two of three at Oakland and against Kansas City entering the series.
Cardinals starter Kip Wells returned to the mound following a 1-hour, 36-minute rain delay before the bottom of the fourth looking for his first victory as a starter in a month. Scratched before his last scheduled start on Tuesday in favor of Thompson, Wells pitched the final two innings of a 14-inning victory against Kansas City on Wednesday.
Against the Phillies he nearly made it through five innings without giving up a run. Wells walked Carlos Ruiz to start the fifth and got the next two batters out before a wild pitch and Michael Bourn’s single brought Ruiz in to tie the score at 1-1. Bourn also drove in a run in the ninth.
“It’s frustrating,” Wells said. “It’s one of those things where you’re pitching a better game and you get a setback. I knew they would make every move they could to keep me in the game to get the win.”
Wells scored the only run for the Cardinals after singling with one out in the third. Taguchi extended his hitting streak to 16 games with a double to send Wells to third and Albert Pujols had a sacrifice fly to center field.
Wells allowed three hits and one run in five innings. He struck out five and walked two.
Jayson Werth threw out Ryan Ludwick in the fourth inning for his six assist from the outfield in 24 games. … Wells had two singles in two at-bats and is batting .346 (9-for-26) this season. … Howard has a hit in all 10 games against the Cardinals in his career. He went 1-for-4 with a single on Sunday. … Rain pushed the start of the game back 22 minutes.