PHILADELPHIA (CBS)—The cracks were bound to surface. The Cincinnati Reds didn’t have the playoff savvy of the Phillies. They weren’t used to the postseason glare, maybe a little too raw to stave off the pressure that was apt to come from the Phils. After all, Reds’ starter Bronson Arroyo couldn’t go inning after inning dismissing the Phillies, could he? And Phillies’ pitching was bound to settle and cool off the red-hot Reds’ offense, or could they?
It took some time. In fact, it took until a three-run seventh inning and four Reds’ errors to change the course of Game 2 of the National League Division Series in favor of the Phillies for a 7-4 victory–thanks to five unearned runs–at Citizens Bank Park Friday night.
Brad Lidge shut the door in the ninth, giving the Phils a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-five NLDS, as the series now goes to Cincinnati for Game 3 Sunday night.
“We finally started cashing in on the mistakes they made, and the mistakes they made to me were pretty basic mistakes,” Phils’ manager Charlie Manuel said. “For four or five innings, they were a good team until their mistakes caught up to them. They can play defense. Arroyo threw a lot of soft stuff and his command was good. We had a hard time with it. If you know how to pitch us, on a given night, you can be very successful.”
Nothing seemed to be working for the Phillies, until Chase Utley’s two-out, two-run single in the fifth. The pair of runs came courtesy of a pair of Cincinnati errors, when Reds’ second baseman Brandon Phillips committed an error on a Shane Victorino ground ball, and then Reds’ third baseman Scott Rolen bobbled a shot straight at him off the bat from Placido Polanco, loading the bases for Utley.
“We’ve played in difficult situations and difficult places, and we’re used to it,” Utley said. “We don’t panic. Charlie breeds confidence. We don’t have a negative clubhouse, and it rubbed off the past few years.”
Cincinnati continued with its fielding escapades in the seventh. Right fielder Jay Bruce misplayed a Jimmy Rollins fly ball, and Phillips’ flubbed the relay throw, when he dropped the ball taking it out of his glove. The result was a pair of Phillies’ runs and a 5-4 Phillies’ lead.
Bruce literally ran by the Rollins’ shot. He claimed he had trouble tracking the ball, losing it in the lights.
“Yes, it was in the lights, and it was hard to see, it’s embarrassing and I take a lot of pride in my defense,” Bruce said. “We had some chances, and who knows what would have happened if I didn’t lose the ball in the lights. It’s tough, because we had a lead. We’re a good team and things that happened tonight were pretty uncharacteristic. We just have to keep grinding and play good baseball.”
The Reds had committed the third-fewest errors in the National League (72) during the regular season. The four errors committed by Cincinnati tied a NLDS record for errors in a game.
Philadelphia tacked on another run with a fielder’s choice on a Carlos Ruiz ground ball. The Phils added an insurance run in the eighth when Jayson Werth singled home Utley.
No one expected Phils’ starter Roy Oswalt to replicate the magic Roy Halladay spun Monday night. That became pretty evident with the first batter of the game, when Phillips took the game’s fourth pitch deep into the left-field stands. No, Oswalt wasn’t Roy Halladay. Oswalt wasn’t even Roy Oswalt.
Not the pitcher who finished the last month of the season 2-0 with a 0.64 ERA. Or the Oswalt who was 7-3 the second half of the season, with a 2.36 ERA. Oswalt looked flat. The movement wasn’t there. He left the ball in the middle of the plate. His change-up wasn’t effective, and he left after five inning, with the Phils trailing 4-0, thanks to solo homers from Phillips and Bruce.
“I was a little rusty, and a bad pitch selection to Bruce, I knew better than to throw that pitch,” Oswalt said. “All of the hits came off sliders. As long as we didn’t get blown out, I knew we had a chance. I knew I wasn’t going to throw a no-hitter.”
Jose Contreras earned the victory with a perfect seventh inning, followed by shutout innings from Ryan Madson and Lidge.
Reported by: Joseph Santoliquito
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