MILWAUKEE - After he scored four runs and drove in two, crushed a homer to deep center and singled twice, drew two walks and stole two bases, Odubel Herrera basked in his career night. His manager, Pete Mackanin, passed the Phillies centerfielder inside the visitors' clubhouse at Miller Park after a 10-6 win.
"You were lucky," Mackanin said to Herrera. "Lucky."
Herrera howled. The Phillies played an interminable game Saturday night in Wisconsin, lost a starting pitcher to a hamstring injury, and somehow survived throwing 130 pitches in the first five innings.
But, after four hours of baseball that raised the Phillies to a .500 team, the clubhouse was energized. Herrera and Maikel Franco are dynamic reminders that baseball in Philadelphia can be fun.
"It means a lot when those guys get going," Mackanin said, "and they look like they're lighting up a little bit."
A little bit? Franco blasted his third homer in two days. In the fifth, he made a play from his butt at third that will be replayed for the remainder of the season. He has an .890 on-base-plus-slugging percentage.
Herrera contributed in every way possible. He saw 30 pitches in six plate appearances. He percolated a lineup with one of his league-leading walks. He generated runs with his stolen bases. He has an .875 OPS.
Somehow, the Phillies are a .500 team. It is the latest the Phillies have had a .500 record since they were 15-15 on May 5, 2014. These Phillies have been outscored by 23 runs in 18 games, and .500 is not sustainable under those conditions.
A night like Saturday tested the resolve of this young team. The Phillies reached a season high in runs. That offset Charlie Morton's tumble, caused by a strained left hamstring in the first inning, which could prompt a change in the starting rotation.
Morton was hurt on a routine play. He bunted a ball too hard back to the Milwaukee pitcher, Chase Anderson, who fired to second. Morton sprinted to first base, but he never made it. The 32-year-old pitcher collapsed about halfway down the line. He could not walk to the dugout without assistance.
"It was like my leg went dead," Morton said. "And that's why I needed help off the field."
The severity of the injury is not yet known; Morton is scheduled for an MRI on Monday. He is likely bound for the disabled list. The veteran pitcher has been on the DL in six of his last seven seasons. Such a move could push Adam Morgan into the Phillies rotation.
Morgan, 26, had an outstanding spring with the Phillies. That translated to his first three starts at triple-A Lehigh Valley, where he has struck out 20 and walked four.
For one night, the Phillies bullpen had to absorb a game. It was not the prettiest effort. Brett Oberholtzer, who relieved Morton, raised his ERA to 8.74 with two forgettable innings that required 58 pitches. Andrew Bailey, making his Phillies debut, survived two scoreless innings on 43 pitches. Four other relievers pieced together the final four innings.
Herrera and Franco supplied the runs. Herrera, atop the lineup, resembled the improbable catalyst the Phillies have come to love. His two stolen bases directly led to runs; Herrera twice scored from second on singles after those steals. Then, in the ninth, he added two insurance runs with a homer to center.
"I feel great," Herrera said through an interpreter. "I'm seeing a lot of pitches. That's what I want to do. The more pitches that I see, the more pitches my teammates see. It's a collective effort. I feel very comfortable right now."
Franco's fifth homer of the season was a three-run shot to left in the fourth inning that pushed the Phillies ahead for good. He attacked a high change-up.
An inning later, he dazzled at third base. Franco scampered to his left, snagged a Ryan Braun hopper, and plopped on the ground. He rolled over onto his rear and made a perfect throw to first that retired Braun by a couple of steps.
"That was the first time that I did that play," Franco said. "Most of the time I just throw from the knee. I've never thrown like that."
Shortstop Freddy Galvis needled his teammate.
"You throw better like that," Galvis told Franco.
The two laughed about it after the win, and there was much to celebrate even after 387 pitches between two teams in nine innings of baseball. No one would forget what Franco and Herrera did.
"That's what you look for when you go out there," Franco said. "Try to have fun, enjoy the game, and win the game."