“It’s definitely a good feeling,” Ibanez said of his sixth career game-winning homer. “You definitely don’t try to do that. You try to look for a pitch to drive and when you do it, there’s no better feeling as a player.”
Roy Halladay(notes) pitched seven strong innings, Carlos Ruiz(notes) hit a tying homer and the Phillies increased their lead to 31/2 games over the Braves in the NL East. The victory was manager Charlie Manuel’s 600th career win with the team.
Despite heavy rain throughout the day and a delay of 1 hour, 54 minutes at the start, the game was played straight through without any stoppage after the first pitch. The teams were set to start after a 90-minute delay, but the rain began falling harder and umpires instructed the grounds crew to put the tarp back on the field.
“I told them I was leery of starting the game and I didn’t want to send my pitcher out there,” Manuel said.
Ibanez ripped a 2-0 pitch from Scott Proctor(notes) (1-3) out to right to end it after Braves center fielder Jordan Schafer(notes) robbed Ryan Howard(notes) of extra bases leading off the inning with a diving catch on his drive to left-center.
“A 3-2 game, it might be the same tomorrow and Sunday,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
These teams battled for the NL East title last year, with the Phillies overcoming a seven-game deficit on July 22 to win their fourth consecutive division crown. The Braves were 4.5 games up at the All-Star break, and finished six games back, though they earned a wild-card berth.
Fittingly, in a matchup between teams with the two best ERAs in the majors, runs were scarce. Neither starter stuck around for a decision.
Halladay gave up two runs and six hits, striking out seven. The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner hasn’t lost since the Braves beat him on May 15.
Three Phillies relievers combined for three perfect innings. Michael Stutes(notes) pitched the eighth and Antonio Bastardo(notes) worked the ninth to run his scoreless innings streak to 16. The hard-throwing lefty has allowed one hit in 42 at-bats in that span.
“I’m excited and pumped up about my first win,” Perez said through a translator. “I worked hard to stay sharp mentally and I’m thankful for the opportunity.”
The injury-riddled Phillies, already missing their three top closers, were without their two All-Star regulars. Third baseman Placido Polanco(notes) missed his fourth straight game with a back injury and center fielder Shane Victorino(notes) was placed on the disabled list earlier in the day because of a sprained thumb.
Philadelphia has relied on its stellar pitching this season and will send two more All-Stars to the mound this weekend. Cliff Lee(notes) (9-6) faces Tommy Hanson(notes) (10-4) on Saturday and Cole Hamels(notes) (10-4) goes against Derek Lowe(notes) (5-6) on Sunday.
Dan Uggla’s(notes) RBI infield single in the top of the inning put the Braves up 2-1. Brian McCann(notes) led off the inning with a single and Chipper Jones(notes) followed with a double to right-center. After Freddie Freeman(notes) struck out, Uggla hit a grounder down the third-base line. Wilson Valdez(notes) gloved it and looked home, but seemed to lose his grip on the ball and Uggla beat the throw to first.
The Braves took a 1-0 lead in the second on Freeman’s RBI single. Jones led off with a single, advanced to second on a passed ball and scored on Freeman’s liner to center. Freeman moved to second on a wild pitch by Halladay, prompting the All-Star right-hander to toss aside the resin bag and ask for a new one. Halladay retired the next three hitters, striking out two.
The Phillies answered in the bottom half. Ibanez singled to start the inning. He moved to second on a balk and went to third on Ruiz’s single. After Domonic Brown(notes) struck out, Valdez lined a sacrifice fly to right to tie it at 1.
Notes: Manuel is the third Phillies manager to reach 600 wins, joining Gene Mauch and Harry Wright. … Freeman has a six-game hitting streak, going 9 for 21 in that span. … Philadelphia’s Chase Utley(notes) extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a first-inning single. … The Phillies have won Halladay’s last 10 starts. … Jones is 7 for 12 with two homers against Halladay. … A crowd of 45,403 was the 183rd straight sellout at Citizens Bank Park, including postseason play. … The Braves and Phillies are the only two teams in the majors who haven’t been swept in a series of three or more games this season. … The last Phillies pitcher to strike out the side on nine pitches was Andy Ashby on June 15, 1991.