Looking to spark a sluggish lineup that has been weakened by injuries to Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel sent third baseman Pedro Feliz to the bench last night and started Greg Dobbs at the position.
The move worked on two fronts.
Dobbs had a key single, helping set the table for Chase Utley's three-run homer in the fifth inning.
Two innings later, Feliz came off the bench as a pinch-hitter and clubbed a tiebreaking solo homer off Pedro Feliciano to help lift the Phillies to a 5-4 win over the New York Mets in the finale of a taut three-game series at Citizens Bank Park.
The game ended in dramatic fashion. On the day that Rollins, the team's Gold Glove shortstop, went on the disabled list, his replacement, Eric Bruntlett, saved the game with a diving stab of Carlos Beltran's smash up the middle.
Bruntlett popped to his feet and benefited from a good scoop by first baseman Ryan Howard as he threw out Beltran with two men on base to end the game. If the ball had gotten through, it would have tied the game.
"That was obviously an incredible way to end a ball game, as big as they come," said Bruntlett, picked up in an off-season trade with Houston. "Coming over to a new team, I haven't swung the bat as well as I would like, but it's nice to do something to help us win."
The Mets took the first two games - running their winning streak to four straight over their NL East rivals - before the Phils' win last night.
The series was played in front of three raucous, sellout crowds, and the total attendance (135,478) was the largest ever for a three-game series at the Bank.
Utley led the Phillies' offense with a pair of homers off Mets starter Mike Pelfrey, and relievers J.C. Romero and Brad Lidge combined for nine outs to lock down the win.
Utley's three-run blast in the fifth gave the Phils a 4-0 advantage, but starter Adam Eaton threw the lead back like an undersized trout.
Eaton, who had turned in three quality starts (six or more innings, three or fewer earned runs) to open the season, saw that streak end when he was battered for four runs in the top of the sixth.
The righthander pitched shutout ball through the first five innings. In the bottom of the fifth, Eaton saw his 1-0 lead balloon to 4-0 when the jalapeño-hot Utley followed no-out singles by Jayson Werth and Dobbs with a cannonading three-run homer off the right-field foul pole.
Utley hit a 3-1 fastball from Pelfrey that registered 93 m.p.h. In the first inning, he hit a 2-0 fastball out of the park. The two-homer game was the 15th of his career and second this season. He has homered in four straight games.
Presented with a four-run lead, Eaton quickly melted in the sixth. Facing the top of the order, he allowed four straight hits, including a leadoff triple to Jose Reyes. The second hit was an RBI single by Luis Castillo, the third a double by David Wright (his eighth hit of the series) and the fourth a two-run single by Beltran, making it a 4-3 game.
That was it for Eaton. Chad Durbin came on and got the first out. Beltran then stole second and scored on Ryan Church's single, tying the score at 4-4.
The Phils received quality relief work from Romero in keeping the score tied in the top of the seventh. Romero struck out the dangerous Beltran with a runner at second to end the frame, setting up Feliz's heroics in the bottom of the inning. Feliz carried a .203 batting average into the at-bat.
Romero stayed on and pitched the eighth, and again stranded a runner at second. Lidge survived a leadoff walk and a no-out infield hit and notched his third save - with a huge assist from Bruntlett.
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