Phillies 9, Twins 8

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange


MINNEAPOLIS -- In desperate need of a win, the Philadelphia Phillies pounded out 15 hits and survived a Minnesota Twins rally on Wednesday, snapping a three-game skid with a 9-8 win.
Cole Hamels (9-3) pitched into the seventh inning and got much-needed run support for the Phillies, who entered the evening 10 games out of first place in the NL East, but kept pace with the Nationals. John Mayberry Jr. and Jim Thome homered for the Phillies, who had lost nine of their previous 10 games.
Trevor Plouffe and Josh Willingham homered for Minnesota, which lost starting pitcher P.J. Walters (2-2) after just four batters due to an injury.
For the Phillies, closer Jonathan Papelbon came on with two gone in the eighth and got the last four Twins outs for his 17th save of the season.
Leading 9-4, and with Hamels looking solid through six innings, things seemed smooth for the Phillies. But in the seventh the first five Twins reached base, chasing Hamels after 99 pitches. Minnesota got four runs to pull within one, but reliever Antonio Bastardo struck out Willingham and Ryan Doumit, stranding Minnesota's potential tying run at third base.
Walters had trouble getting loose in warmups, and ran into immediate trouble once the game started due to pain and stiffness in his right shoulder. The first four Phillies all singled, and Jim Thome drove in a pair of runs with the bases loaded. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire and team trainers came to the mound, and Walters left the game without recording an out. Walters will undergo an MRI on Thursday.
Coming on in emergency relief, Jeff Manship retired Shane Victorino and Placido Polanco before John Mayberry Jr.'s three-run blast to left gave Philadelphia a 6-0 lead before the Twins had sent a man to the plate.
Trevor Plouffe homered for the second night in a row to get the Twins on the board in the second, sending his 11th long ball of the season into the leftfield seats, but the Phillies answered in the next frame when Carlos Ruiz led off with a double and scored when Mayberry doubled down the left field line, giving Philadelphia a 7-1 lead.
Minnesota mounted a small rally in the bottom of the third, scoring a pair on ground ball RBIs by Joe Mauer and Josh Willingham to make it 7-3. The Twins fans came to their feet en masse in the fourth, but this time it was to salute an opponent. After Hunter Pence singled, Thome blasted a 466-foot shot to straightaway center to give the Phillies a 9-3 lead, and earned a standing ovation from the Minnesota fans as he rounded the bases. Thome was a fan favorite when he spent most of two seasons in Minnesota and hit his 600th career homer on Aug. 15, 2011 in a Twins uniform.
NOTES: Errors have been a big factor in the Phillies recent doldrums. Entering Wednesday's game they had committed 11 errors in their previous six games. Prior to those struggles, the Phillies had just 11 errors in their previous 26 games. ... After an appeal by Twins officials, a Willingham at-bat from Sunday's 8-2 home loss to the Cubs was changed from a fielding error to a hit, meaning that Willingham entered Wednesday's game with a 14-game hitting streak. ... While the Phillies are making their first-ever visit to Target Field, Minnesota is familiar territory for manager Charlie Manuel. In 1963 he signed his first major league contract with the Twins, and made his MLB debut with them in 1969, playing parts of four seasons as a leftfielder in Minnesota. ... After taking batting practice with the team on Tuesday, Twins top draft pick Byron Buxton officially signed with the team on Wednesday. The outfielder from Baxley, Ga., was drafted second overall by Minnesota last week. He will report to the Gulf Coast League Twins in Fort Myers, Fla. ... The last opposing pitcher to leave a game versus the Phillies without recording an out was Montreal's Gil Heredia, in a 14-7 Philadelphia win on May 23, 1993.