Rollins Drives In 2, Leads Phillies Over Pirates
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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — With a new-look lineup, the Philadelphia Phillies showed they can play small ball.
Jimmy Rollins drove in two runs, Freddy Galvis hit a tiebreaking triple in the seventh inning and the Phillies beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-3 Monday night in their first of two exhibition games back home.
Minus injured sluggers Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, the Phillies have tried different ways to replace their Nos. 3-4 hitters this spring. Rollins, batting third instead of leadoff, hit a sacrifice fly in the first inning and lined an RBI double in the third. New leadoff hitter Juan Pierre scored two runs.
“I think we’re going to have more lineups (this season), for sure,” manager Charlie Manuel said. “In the last couple years, we’ve had guys hurt and had a couple different lineups, but we’re going to have more this year. Definitely more different styles of lineups. But at the same time I want to put the team on the field that I think that day is going to win the game.”
Andrew McCutchen hit a solo homer for the Pirates, who used seven pitchers. All-Star closer Joel Hanrahan was the only one not to allow a hit. He tossed a perfect fourth, striking out Hunter Pence.
“We are going to take what we feel are the seven best pitchers for our bullpen,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “And that’s part of the evaluation process. You don’t want to make it all about spring training. But you want to get guys who are sharp on the back end of spring training to start the season for you.
“We want the best seven, but we’re still having the conversation of what we want to do. That’s the edge we’re on right now. We still have to decide if we want the extra bat or the extra reliever.”
Phillies starter Joe Blanton allowed two runs and three hits in 4 2-3 innings. Blanton retired the first 10 batters he faced.
The teams will open the season at Pittsburgh on Thursday.
Rollins has always preferred batting first and he struggled last year when he hit third while Utley was sidelined during the first month of the season. But Rollins planned to approach Manuel about moving down in the lineup before the manager beat him to it and put him third a few days ago.
“Jimmy knows how to play and he’s a tremendous hitter,” Manuel said. “He’s never given me any trouble about it. He’s very professional.”
Pierre led off the bottom of the first with a double to left. He advanced to third on Placido Polanco’s flyout to center and scored on Rollins’ sacrifice fly.
Shane Victorino lined a triple leading off the second and scored on Ty Wigginton’s groundout for a 2-0 lead.
Pierre got things going in the third when he was hit by a pitch. He scored on Rollins’ opposite-field double down the right-field line. Rollins was thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a triple.
Pierre signed a minor league deal in January and wasn’t guaranteed a roster spot until last week. Now he’ll likely get a chance to be the regular left fielder. The left-handed hitter has a .296 career batting average, with a .305 mark against lefties.
“He’s been getting on base and he makes things happen,” Manuel said. “He’s the kind of guy that kind of ticks off the other team. He’s pesky. He uses the whole field, he puts the ball in play, he’s a very important part of the club.”
Blanton retired his first 10 batters before running into trouble in the fourth. Neil Walker hit an RBI single and Garrett Jones followed with an RBI double.
McCutchen homered off Pat Misch in the sixth to tie it at 3.
Galvis, the rookie who moved from shortstop to replace Utley at second base, ripped a triple to right-center that scored Wigginton to make it 4-3.
Blanton is coming off an injury-plagued season in which he made just eight starts. He’s healthy now and ready to be the No. 5 starter on a staff of aces.
Blanton, though, hasn’t heard when he’ll pitch yet. Because of days off early on, his spot might get skipped at least once.
“They haven’t said anything to me,” Blanton said, adding that he’s fine with pitching out of the bullpen the first week or so. “I can do whatever. Getting outs is getting outs. I’ll try to help the team win no matter what.”
Jim Thome got a standing ovation when he was introduced as a pinch-hitter in the fifth inning in his first game in a Phillies uniform in Philadelphia since 2005. Thome was a very popular player when he played here for three seasons, and received loud ovations whenever he returned as a visiting player. The 41-year-old veteran is back to help fill in for Howard and provide pop off the bench.
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