CHARLIE MANUEL said he needed some "slug" from righthanded sluggers Pat Burrell and Wes Helms, who had combined to hit one home run and had 11 RBI apiece.
Burrell delivered some slug last night.
He homered twice off Cubs lefthander Rich Hill to propel the Phillies to a 7-2 win in the first game of this 10-game homestand.
His three-run homer in the fourth inning made a 2-0 game 3-2.
His two-run shot in the sixth put the score at 5-2 and earned him a curtain call.
It also chased Hill, who came in 4-1 with a 1.73 earned run average, third in the National League.
"He single-handedly gave us the lead tonight," Chase Utley said.
With National League MVP Ryan Howard sidelined by left leg injuries for a fifth time in six games, Burrell knew he was needed.
"With Ryan being out, the middle of the lineup needs to pick it up," Burrell said.
It was an unusual performance.
Burrell had that one homer. He was 5-for-33 against lefties ("Really?" he said).
He was coming off a 2-for-28 performance on the Phillies' 4-6 road trip, which dropped his average from .304 to .237.
However, in an interview the Daily News, Burrell insisted that he was comfortable at the plate. He credited his improved eye with moving closer to the plate, with a more spread stance, with the goal of driving the ball into the middle of the field – suggestions from hitting coach Milt Thompson and Manuel made near the end of spring training.
Burrell's 31 walks were third in the league entering last night. He walked 11 times on the road trip, but Burrell wasn't walking last. His lack of run production - six RBI in 29 games - was bothering him, not the lack of homers.
"It would be one thing if I was getting hits and driving in guys," Burrell said.
He did last night.
Aaron Rowand walked to start the fourth. Utley then got hit for the 12th time this season, most in the majors. That set up Burrell's first homer.
Utley walked to start the sixth, before Burrell's second bomb.
Both homers went deep into the leftfield stands.
Both set off a display on the scoreboard that depicted Burrell's image and a "BURRELL'S BOMBS" message in lights.
It was the first time the message flashed this season. Burrell hit his other homer April 6, in Washington – 86 at-bats (and 29 walks) ago.
The second time it flashed, Burrell was compelled by the 42,473 at Citizens Bank Park to appear for a curtain call.
Utley added a two-run single in the seventh off lefty reliever Neal Cotts, cementing the win for 23-year-old assassin Cole Hamels. Now 5-1, Hamels, in his first full season, was typically extraordinary.
In seven innings, he allowed two runs on seven hits and struck out seven, running his strikeout total to 59, best in the league before Jake Peavy (56) started for the Padres last night.
Nonetheless, Hamels, with only 31 major-league starts, felt squeezed by home plate umpire Larry Poncino after allowing solo homers to Alfonso Soriano and Aramis Ramirez.
"It's a little difficult to compete when you're throwing the exact same pitches as the other pitcher and not getting them called," Hamels said, acknowledging that young players must earn the benefit of the doubt.
"I'm a low-strike pitcher. I think, eventually, the zone will adjust."
Before Burrell's homers, the Cubs' homers seemed set to haunt the Phillies and their free-agency decisions.
Soriano and Ramirez were two of the righthanded sluggers the Phillies failed to acquire in their quest to replace Burrell and the $27 million owed him over the final 2 years of his contract. The Phillies were eager to add protection for lefty-hitting Howard.
Soriano's homer was his fourth, all hit during his career-best 19-game hitting streak.
Ramirez's homer was his eighth.
They were not enough.
The man they might have replaced made sure of it. *