They had needed a big hit for weeks, it felt like. Rarely anything had gone the Phillies' way, so there was little reason to believe luck could change with the swing of Ben Francisco's bat.
Francisco, in the lineup because Jayson Werth needs a mental break from his slump, hit into two double plays in the first six innings Tuesday. But Charlie Manuel let him step to the plate with the game on the line in the eighth.
He delivered. Francisco singled home two runs to put the Phillies ahead in a 10-8 victory over Florida at Citizens Bank Park.
And maybe, just maybe, Francisco's hit could ignite these Phillies.
Brad Lidge allowed his first two base runners since returning from the disabled list but survived a bases-loaded jam for his third save of the season.
Francisco, the reserve outfielder, hit a 90-m.p.h. Taylor Tankersley fastball to center, scoring Placido Polanco (who reached on a walk) and Chase Utley (hit by a pitch). With one hit, Francisco doubled his season total in RBIs.
He has been one of the most sparsely used players on Manuel's roster. At one point in 2010, Francisco went 19 games without a start.
This time, he took some pressure off the struggling regulars.
Before the game, Manuel talked about how if just one or two of his hitters could start getting on base regularly, it would take the pressure off others. But when everyone has gone bad, there is a lot of pressing to be the one to break the slide.
Against Florida, there were signs once again of emerging from the offensive doldrums. The Phillies scored double-digit runs for the first time in 20 games. Utley had his first multi-hit game since May 23; Raul Ibanez did the same for the first time since May 25. For Ibanez, it was his first four-hit game of the season.
"I think if you get Ibanez and Utley both hitting, then you'll see [Ryan] Howard is going to get more pitches in the middle of the plate," Manuel said. "They're going to have to make up their mind who they want to pitch to and who you're going to pitch around."
It almost wasn't enough Tuesday.
In relief of ineffective starter Kyle Kendrick, Chad Durbin and Jose Contreras each allowed a run - both damaged by triples.
Chris Coghlan led off the seventh with a triple against Durbin. He scored three batters later on a Jorge Cantu double to tie the game at 7.
In the eighth, Contreras allowed a leadoff single to Marlins phenom Mike Stanton, making his major-league debut. Two batters later, Wes Helms tripled for the first time since Sept. 27, 2006 to drive home Stanton and put Florida ahead.
The Phillies were in a 4-0 hole early when Kendrick allowed two home runs in the first three innings. They scrapped back to tie the game and eventually take the lead in the sixth on an Utley sacrifice fly.
The magic number for Kendrick starts is six, as in six innings. Once Kendrick pitches that deep, he has a 22-3 record. On Tuesday, he made it through only five innings, allowing six runs (five earned). The six runs were the most Kendrick had allowed since his second start of the season, April 14 against Washington.
For once, the Phillies had enough offense to sustain a poor pitching performance - plus a little bit of good fortune in the form of Francisco.