You can cross one idea off your list of solutions for the Phillies' offensive woes, because giving them five extra innings at the plate did not yield much in the way of results last night.
Instead, the Mets squeaked out a 2-1 victory, thanks to an RBI single by Ronny Paulino in the top of the 14th inning at a near-empty Citizens Bank Park.
It was the Phillies' longest game since Aug. 24 of last season, when they fell to the Astros in 16 innings. At 4 hours, 44 minutes, it was their longest game of the season.
Righthander Kyle Kendrick pitched two scoreless innings of relief but could not make it three, allowing a leadoff single to David Wright and a one-out single to Jason Bay before Paulino notched his fifth hit of the night, a single to leftfield to push the go-ahead run home.
Until then, the night had been an exercise in offensive futility as righthanded starter Chris Young outdueled Cliff Lee, holding the Phillies' lineup to two hits and three walks with seven strikeouts in his seven innings of work. Placido Polanco extended his hitting streak to 11 games and Brian Schneider hit a one-out double in the third inning, but that was about it in terms of action. Trailing 1-0, the Phillies left the bases loaded in the seventh inning after Young walked two batters and hit another. Raul Ibanez struck out with one out and runners on first and second and Schneider struck out on a check swing with two outs and the bases loaded to end the threat. Manager Charlie Manuel was ejected after the inning while arguing the check-swing call with third-base umpire Lance Barksdale.
Manuel might be getting frustrated with the lackluster production he has received from his lineup, but heading into last night's tilt against the Mets, the Phillies had made the best of it. They were 10-7 when scoring fewer than five runs and 7-6 when scoring fewer than four runs.
In both instances, they were the only team in the National League with a winning record. (For comparison's sake, the rest of the NL had combined to post winning percentages of .269 when scoring fewer than five runs and .182 when scoring fewer than four.)
Young didn't catch the Phillies by surprise - a month ago, he struck out seven in 5 innings of a 7-1 Mets win at Citizens Bank Park. Still, by the time he stepped to the plate to bat in the top of the sixth inning, the lanky Princeton graduate had thrown just 57 pitches. At that point, Lee's pitch count was at 100, a third of which came in a 34-pitch first inning that ended with Ike Davis grounding out with the bases loaded. The veteran lefty allowed his only run in the fifth inning, when Carlos Beltran followed Wright's two-out single with a double to centerfield that easily scored the Mets third baseman.
Ryan Howard tied the game in the bottom of the eighth, serving a two-out slider into leftfield to send John Mayberry Jr. scampering home from second base.
Mayberry had pinch-hit against Jason Isringhausen to lead off the eighth inning, drawing a walk to set up the game-tying rally. After Shane Victorino bunted Mayberry to second, Polanco popped up and Jimmy Rollins walked, bringing Howard to the plate for the game-tying hit.
Lee finished seven innings, allowing eight hits and two walks with five strikeouts while throwing 113 pitches, 78 for strikes. Righthander Michael Stutes recorded the first out of the eighth inning, Antonio Bastardo recorded the last two, Ryan Madson pitched a scoreless ninth and Danys Baez pitched scoreless 10th and 11th innings. By the time the 12th inning rolled around, the stadium loudspeakers were blaring Eric Clapton's "After Midnight." Because, well, it was after midnight.