The annual end-of-year hazing, when rookies have to wear silly costumes in the clubhouse, had a bit more jocularity than usual Friday night after the Phillies beat the Washington Nationals 6-3.
Because the NL East-leading Mets’ game with Florida was in a rain delay, Philadelphia’s players entertained themselves by watching, among others, catcher Chris Coste parade as the Man of Steel and interpreter David Yamamoto sprout wings on his white Tooth Fairy dress.
“We’ve got Wonder Woman also,” closer Brett Myers said. “It’s huge for our morale in here. We have superheros.”
So can these super heroes deliver the division for the Phillies, who have won eight of nine and began the day 1 1/2 games behind the struggling Mets?
“We hope so,” Myers said.
The super feats on the field were performed by Myers and Tom Gordon, who both pitched for the fourth straight day, and by the first four batters in the lineup.
Ryan Howard, Pat Burrell and MVP contender Jimmy Rollins all homered. Rollins (2-for-5), Chase Utley (2-for-4), Burrell (1-for-4) and Howard (4-for-4) supplied nine of Philadelphia’s 10 hits in a top-heavy attack.
Adam Eaton (10-9) won for the first time since July 20, keeping the pressure on a Mets team that led the Phillies by seven games as recently as Sept. 12.
“I believe we’re going to pull it off,” said Eaton, who ended a streak of eight winless starts. “We’re playing loose and free and know that we’re capable of anything at any time.”
The victory was the majors-best 48th come-from-behind win for the Phillies, but this one wasn’t as dramatic as the rally from 6-2 down to beat the Nationals 7-6 the night before. Washington’s only lead Friday was 1-0 after one inning, and it was erased when Howard led off the second with his 42nd homer, an opposite field shot that barely cleared the left-field fence.
Utley singled through a drawn-in infield to score Rollins in the third, and Burrell followed with a two-run homer, his 29th, to give the Phillies the lead for good.
Rollins kept pace with his teammate by also hitting No. 29, a solo homer in the fifth. Howard had an RBI double later in the fifth to spot Eaton a 6-1 lead.
Eaton labored early, but the only run he allowed through four innings came on a first-inning bases loaded walk to Austin Kearns. He gave up two more in the fifth on Robert Fick’s bases-loaded single and was gone after walking pinch hitter D’Angelo Jimenez on four pitches to start the sixth.
Manager Charlie Manuel said he was concerned about using Gordon and Myers for the fourth straight day, but both told him they were fine.
“There’s no time to be sitting around, sitting back saying ‘I can’t pitch today,” said Myers, who threw a perfect ninth for his 19th save. “There’s no time to be sitting around wondering whether you’re arm’s going to fall off. Because that’s when I’ll quit throwing—when it falls off. We’re not going to refuse the ball.”
Nationals starter Shawn Hill (4-5), whom manager Manny Acta proclaimed the ace of the staff, had his worst outing of the year. He pitched 4 2-3 innings— the first time he didn’t make it to five—and matched a season-high by allowing six earned runs.
Hill is getting his final starts despite an injury to his non-throwing shoulder that will require surgery after the season.
“They just hit him,” Acta said. “That’s a good ballclub over there. They have scored more than 220 more runs than we have. They can hit Shawn Hill; they can hit anybody on any given day.”
Nationals LF Wily Mo Pena left the game after being hit by a pitch from Eaton for the second time. Pena was struck in the first and fifth innings, the second time as he started to swing the bat. Umpire Larry Poncino initially signaled a foul ball, but he changed his ruling after Acta showed the umpire the mark on Pena’s left wrist. Manuel then emerged and had a lengthy argument with Poncino before returning to the dugout. X-rays on Pena’s wrist and hand were negative, and he will be listed as day-to-day with a bruise. … Utley’s third-inning single extended his hitting streak to 16 games. … Rollins reached the 200-hit mark for the first time in his career with a third-inning single. He had come close the last three years, finishing with 190, 196 and 191. … Nationals SS Cristian Guzman, activated from the DL before the game, played the ninth inning as a defensive replacement.