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Phillies end skid with slugfest win at Minnesota

The SportsXchange

MINNEAPOLIS -- In desperate need of some good news, the Philadelphia Phillies pounded out 15 hits and survived the 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 remain 9 1/2 games behind the Washington Nationals in the NL East.

John Mayberry Jr. and Jim Thome homered for the Phillies, who had lost nine of their previous 10 games.

"Nobody said it was going to be easy," said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel, who didn't like the way his team allowed the Twins to claw back into it. "Winning is the number one priority. It's not somebody's performance. We can do a lot better than that. We had a lot of chances to really put the game away."

Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon got the last four outs for his 17th save of the season.

Trevor Plouffe and Josh Willingham homered for Minnesota, which lost starting pitcher P.J. Walters (2-2) after just four batters due to a shoulder injury.

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.

Hamels was harshly self-critical after the game.

"Maybe that's being selfish, but it's hard to (celebrate) when you're still in last place and then you don't put good starts together," he said. "Quite a few in a row. I'm not concerned. I'm definitely frustrated."

Walters had trouble getting loose in warmups, and he ran into immediate trouble once the game started due to pain and stiffness in his right shoulder. The first four Phillies all singled, and 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.

"You never want to leave the field like that," said Walters, who threw just 15 pitches. "You always want to be healthy and help the team. The last thing you want to do is have the bullpen throw nine innings. Offense puts up eight runs tonight and we lose. That's about as bad as you could've drawn it up. I didn't do my part tonight."

Coming on in emergency relief, Jeff Manship retired Shane Victorino and Placido Polanco before Mayberry's three-run blast to left gave Philadelphia a 6-0 lead.

"He hasn't been in the training room and hasn't received any treatment, but obviously he's trying to pitch through something," said Gardenhire, seemingly baffled by Walters' inability to find his velocity. "That's not a good way to go about it tonight because it put us in a pretty big hole."

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 left field 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 RBI groundouts by Joe Mauer and Willingham to make it 7-3.

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 he earned a standing ovation from the crowd as he rounded the bases.

"As Reggie Jackson said, that's the deep water, and only a few boys can go in the deep water," Gardenhire said. "He went in the deep water. Most guys can go in the shallower part, but that's the deep water. I like Reggie's statement. That's a man who hit that ball."

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.

"Anytime you clear the center field backdrop, it means a lot. It's special," Thome said. "Minnesota has been a very special place. I enjoyed my time here."

NOTES: Following the game, the Twins announced they will recall right-handed reliever Lester Oliveros from Triple-A Rochester. A corresponding roster move will be made Thursday. ... Errors have been a big factor in the Phillies' recent doldrums. After Wednesday's game, they have committed 12 errors in seven 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 an error to a hit, meaning that Willingham now has a 15-game hitting streak. ... While the Phillies are making their first-ever visit to Target Field, Minnesota is familiar territory for Manuel. In 1963, he signed his first major league contract with the Twins, and made his major league debut with them in 1969, playing parts of four seasons as a left fielder in Minnesota. ... After taking batting practice with the team Tuesday, Twins top draft pick Byron Buxton officially signed with the team Wednesday. The outfielder from Baxley, Ga., was drafted second overall by Minnesota last week. He will report to the rookie-level 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.
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