LOS ANGELES - Against a couple of familiar faces, the Phillies found a reprieve from the offensive struggles that have plagued them for most of the last 2 weeks.
A three-run homer by Brian Schneider in the second inning helped knock former Phils farmhand Carlos Monasterios out of the game in the third inning, and a two-run single by Carlos Ruiz off longtime rival Jonathan Broxton helped seal an 8-4 victory over the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium last night.
The Phillies entered the night having scored three or fewer runs in 10 of their previous 12 games, including a 3-0 shutout at the hands of Hiroki Kuroda on Monday night.
The last time the Phillies scored eight runs was Aug. 18 in an 8-2 win over the Giants. At that point, they were 2 1/2 games behind the Braves. In the 12 games that followed, they hit .184 with a .261 on-base percentage while averaging just 2.3 runs per game.
Yet they saw their deficit in the NL East grow by just half a game during that stretch. After last night's victory, which improved them to 74-58, they trail Atlanta by three games, but lead the wild-card race by 1 1/2 games over the Giants.
After the Dodgers scored a run, righthander Kyle Kendrick escaped a bases-loaded jam in the first by getting Casey Blake to ground into an inning-ending doubleplay. Jayson Werth then led off the second with a double, which helped set the stage for Schneider's three-run homer deep into the rightfield seats.
The Phillies started the third with back-to-back singles by Placido Polanco and Chase Utley, prompting Dodgers manager Joe Torre to remove Monasterios after just 40 pitches.
Monasterios began his career with the Yankees in 2006, but ended up in Philadelphia later that season as part of the package of prospects New York sent to the Phillies in exchange for Bobby Abreu. The 6-2, 175-pound righthander, who pairs an average fastball with a changeup, wasn't considered anything more than a middling prospect. As a 21-year-old at low-Class A Lakewood in 2007, he posted a 4.62 ERA with 6.6 strikeouts and 3.2 walks per nine innings. At high-Class A Clearwater in 2008, he went 5-8 with a 5.63 ERA, 6.3 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9.
After last season, when Monasterios went 5-6 with a 3.73 ERA, 7.6 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 at Clearwater and Double A Reading, the Phillies left him unprotected for the Rule 5 draft. The Dodgers selected him, and have kept him on their active roster throughout the season.
Righthander Ramon Troncoso didn't fare much better: Ryan Howard welcomed him to the game in the third with a three-run home run, his first homer since July 27 against the Diamondbacks.
"That's a good weapon,'' manager Charlie Manuel said. "Get a couple on and hit. We hadn't done that in a while.''
It was the first time since June 29 at Cincinnati that the Phillies had two three-run homers in the same game (Schneider and Wilson Valdez were the last to do it).
At that point, the Phillies held what seemed to be a comfortable 6-1 lead. But the Dodgers scratched out a run in the fifth after a leadoff single by Rod Barajas, and James Loney connected on a two-run homer off Kendrick in the sixth to narrow the score to 6-4.
Kendrick allowed four runs, one of them on a bases-loaded walk in the first, and seven hits in five-plus innings.
"That's kinda who he is,'' Manuel said of Kendrick. "He's been that way for 4, 5 years. If he gives you seven innings, that's good for him.''
Ruiz eased the possibility of a Dodgers comeback in the seventh inning with his two-run single off Broxton, who has struggled immensely off the Phillies this season and in his career.
The hit gave Ruiz six RBI in his career off Broxton, the most of any major league hitter against the erstwhile Dodgers closer.
On Aug. 12, it was Ruiz' two-run double off Broxton in the ninth inning that capped a come-from-behind, 10-9 win at Citizens Bank Park that saw the Phillies score eight runs in their final two frames.
He is 4-for-4 with three doubles off Broxton in his career.
The Phillies' bullpen pitched three scoreless innings to close out the win.
Lucas Bailey drove in three runs to lead the visiting Rays to a 4-1 victory over the Phillies in Game 1 of the best-of-three Gulf Coast League championship series in Clearwater, Fla.
Nerio Rios singled home Maikel Franco for the Phillies' only run.
Phillies starter Jesus Pirela allowed four hits and two earned runs in six innings. He walked one and struck out four.
The Rays will host Game 2 today at noon.
Catcher Paul Hoover will rejoin the team today, the first day rosters expand past 25. Hoover, who went 5-for-18 with two RBI in six games earlier this season, will be the team's third catcher. Hoover will be the only player activated today, assistant general manager Scott Proefrock said . . . Ross Gload (groin) will begin a rehab assignment tonight in Clearwater. *
For more Phillies coverage and opinion, read David Murphy's blog, High Cheese, at http://go.philly.com/highcheese. Follow him on Twitter at