IT HAD been a long night for Ben Francisco.
He had grounded into two doubleplays, one of them coming with runners on the corners and one out in the sixth inning.
He had crashed into the wall in rightfield while attempting to catch Jorge Cantu's game-tying double in the seventh, and he had belly-flopped onto the warning track an inning later while making a futile diving attempt at Wes Helms' go-ahead triple.
But then came the eighth inning, and a two-out at-bat with a one-run deficit on the scoreboard.
In perhaps his biggest moment of the season, Francisco came through, knocking a groundball off lefty Taylor Tankersley up the middle for a two-run single that lifted the Phillies to a much-needed, 10-8 victory over the Marlins last night at Citizens Bank Park.
"We had a rough patch, but every team has to do that throughout 162 games," said Francisco, making a rare start in relief of rightfielder Jayson Werth. "We've been about as bad as we can get, and we're still right there, only a couple games out. When we get everything turned around, we should be right where we want to be."
For what felt like the first time in a month, the batter's box is where the Phillies looked like they wanted to be.
Their 10 runs were the most they'd scored since a 12-2 victory over the Pirates on May 17, and they entered the night hitting .211 and averaging 2.2 runs in the 19 games since (13 of them losses).
Veteran leftfielder Raul Ibanez, who entered the night hitting just .230, had his first four-hit game since May of last season and drove in runs in the third and fifth innings. He finished 4-for-5, just his second game of the season with at least three hits.
Chase Utley, meanwhile, put a dent in one of the worst slumps of his career. He entered the night hitting .260, his lowest average this late into any of his six seasons as an everyday player, but went 2-for-3 with an RBI and three runs, the last of them coming on Francisco's single in the eighth.
Shane Victorino and Ryan Howard both hit their 10th home runs, against Marlins righthander Chris Volstad, Howard's coming with a man on and two outs in the third inning and Victorino's coming with none on and two outs in the fourth.
"We'll see tomorrow night, manager Charlie Manuel said when asked if the win could spark an offensive renaissance. "You know what was good about tonight's game? We stayed with them, and once they took the lead we stayed after them and came from behind. It was kind of like an old Phillie win."
Brad Lidge recorded his third, and most dramatic, save of the season, loading the bases with two outs in the ninth inning before getting Ronny Paulino to pop up for the final out. Lidge allowed a leadoff single to Hanley Ramirez, struck out the next two hitters, then walked Cody Ross and allowed an infield single to newly called-up super prospect Mike Stanton. He has pitched seven straight scoreless outings since allowing a run in his first game of the season.
The Marlins had tied the game in the seventh on a double by Cantu, then took an 8-7 lead in the eighth inning on a one-out triple by Helms, who laced a 2-1 fastball from Jose Contreras into the gap in right-center to send Stanton roaring home from first base.
But the Marlins inflicted the bulk of the damage off righthanded starter Kyle Kendrick, who allowed home runs to Gaby Sanchez and Ramirez and left the game after allowing six runs in five innings. Nevertheless, the Phillies battled back. Howard's two-run homer in the third helped close what was once a 4-0 deficit. After the Marlins took a 6-3 lead in the fourth, the Phillies scored four runs to go up 7-6.
But by the time Francisco stepped to the plate in the eighth, they trailed 8-7. With Utley on third and Howard on second, first base was open for Tankersley to walk Francisco and pitch to the lefthanded-hitting Ibanez. But the lefthander took his chances with Francisco, who took a changeup and then found a fastball he liked for the two-run single that gave the Phillies a 9-8 lead.
"I didn't know if they were going to pitch to me or not," said Francisco, who finished 2-for-4 to improve his average to .255. "But he threw me a first-pitch changeup, and after that I was just looking for something out over the plate. He left a fastball up."
Lefthander J.A. Happ (forearm strain) made his first rehab start since landing on the disabled list on April 16, allowing three hits and two runs with two strikeouts in three innings for Class A Clearwater . . . The attendance was 44,098, the 70th consecutive home sellout.
For more Phillies coverage and opinion, read David Murphy's blog, High Cheese, at http://go.philly.com/highcheese.