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 one Ben Francisco swing.
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.
"We stayed with them," Manuel said. "We came from behind. It was kind of like an old Phillies win."
Yes, like old times. The Phillies scored double-digit runs for the first time in 20 games. To close it out, Brad Lidge loaded the bases but escaped for his third save of 2010.
And it was Francisco, one of the most sparingly used players on Manuel's roster, with the key hit.
"That was awesome," Werth said.
Francisco 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.
Manuel said he didn't consider pinch-hitting Werth for Francisco in that situation.
"Not at all," Manuel said. "I love Ben hitting. I think he can hit. Seriously."
At one point in 2010, Francisco went 19 games without a start. It has forced a major adjustment for Francisco, who played in 126 games with 405 at-bats in 2009 - mostly as a regular for Cleveland.
"When he sits on the bench like that, he's not used to it," Manuel said. "It might take him a while to get going."
Francisco had two hits, a walk, and scored two runs.
Werth said he often talks to Francisco about his role. In 2007, Werth went through a similar situation. Platooning with Shane Victorino in right field, Werth had just 255 at-bats. The next season, he became a regular.
"It's tough to find at-bats and starts," Werth said. "For him to come up big like that, it was great."
Francisco also helped take 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 could relax 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. Utley had his first multihit 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.
It almost wasn't enough.
In relief of ineffective starter Kyle Kendrick, Chad Durbin and Jose Contreras each allowed a run.
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 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.
"We've been about as bad as we can get," Francisco said, "and we're still right there, only a couple games back."
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