In the Phillies' seemingly interminable quest to score runs during the first three weeks of the season, the most conspicuous holes in the lineup were the ones where Jimmy Rollins and Placido Polanco used to hit.
So, for all the negatives you could point to in a 6-4 win over the Chicago Cubs on Monday night, the lasting impression was left with two outs in the eighth inning, when Polanco laced a double to left field to send Juan Pierre and Rollins scrambling home on what proved to be the game-winning hit.
For Polanco, it meant a third multi-hit performance in four games. For Rollins, it meant another productive day in the leadoff spot, where he returned Saturday after spending the first 20 games of the season in the three-hole.
"You keep working," Polanco explained how he's overcoming his struggles at the plate. "You kind of relax a little bit more if you've been around a little bit, but at the same time you want to come to work and make adjustments on whatever you are doing wrong."
And for the Phillies, it meant a split of a four-game series with the Cubs at Citizens Bank Park, as well as an 11-12 record that they will take with them on a daunting road trip through Atlanta and Washington.
"When you win a game and you go and get on the plane, it's always better," manager Charlie Manuel said after watching his team blow a 4-1 lead before the eighth-inning dramatics. "It's hard to explain, really. It's always better, under any circumstances. At the same time, we're trying to play better baseball, and we're going to have to play better. Hopefully, this can carry over from tonight and we can go down and play good in Atlanta."
For one inning Monday night, the Phillies seemed primed to dole out the type of thumping that had been their specialty during their rise to prominence. After Rollins bunted his way on base and Shane Victorino legged out an infield hit, Hunter Pence knocked an RBI single to center, Carlos Ruiz drove two more home with a base hit, and Pete Orr extended the lead to 4-0 with a single to right.
But for the most part, the bats were silent. By the end of the seventh inning, the Phillies had two bunt singles, two infield singles, and three walks, along with base hits to the outfield by Pence, Ruiz, Orr, Polanco, and Wigginton.
The Cubs, meanwhile, had seen a would-be double erased when second-base umpire Angel Campos called David DeJesus out in the first inning even though he appeared to beat the throw from right field.
Karma owed the visitors a little something. And in the eighth inning, they were paid. Vance Worley left the game after the seventh inning having allowed one run, two walks, and five hits while striking out five on 102 pitches. Attempting to protect a 4-1 lead, Antonio Bastardo retired DeJesus, walked Tony Campana, then gave way to Chad Qualls, who allowed an RBI single to Starlin Castro and a two-run home run to Bryan LaHair as the Cubs tied the game.
But the Phillies rallied in the eighth. Pierre reached base when he was hit with a one-out pitch, then advanced to third on a two-out single by Rollins. That set the stage for Polanco, who hit just .196 in the first 18 games of the season.
Jonathan Papelbon recorded his eighth save, issuing a leadoff walk before retiring the next three batters he faced in the ninth.
"That's good - we need to be able to come back like that, being behind," Worley said. "It's just a matter of getting the runs and keep going."
It's a good thing the Phillies have played well in the second half of the season over the last few years because they have gotten off to some mediocre starts. Here is how the Phils have fared in April in the last six years: