Injuries? Who cares? Phillies on top

Even with Chase Utley and Brad Lidge on the disabled list, even with Jayson Werth signing with the Washington Nationals in the offseason, the Phillies have surged to the top of the National League East standings again.

They’re winning with pitching and defense and playing small ball.

But they’re winning.

The Phillies eked past the pesky Florida Marlins, 3-2, yesterday before the second-largest crowd (45, 716) in the history of Citizens Bank Park.

Cole Hamels was steady in seven innings in allowing seven hits and two runs.

At 10-4, the Phillies also haven’t dropped a series yet. Nor have they lost consecutive games.

Pretty darn impressive.

“For us, we’re just going out and continuing to play,” said first baseman Ryan Howard, who scored the winning run on Carlos Ruiz’s sacrifice fly in the bottom of the eighth inning. “I’m not going to question it.

“We’re just playing.”

Placido Polanco went deep for the first time in 322 at-bats (July 22, 2010 at St. Louis) a solo shot in the first inning. Other than that, the Phillies had seven additional hits, all singles.

“I think right now, we’ve got our timing off,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “Our balance in our lineup is not real good.”

Three things we saw

1 Don’t blame Cole Hamels

Cole Hamels was supposed to start Saturday’s game, but when that got postponed due to rain, the left-hander was ready to go. Hamels worked himself in and out of jams in the fourth (wild pitch, zero runs, one hit) and seventh (two hits, zero runs). For the afternoon, Hamels (101 pitches) allowed just two earned runs —- all coming in the sixth — on seven hits.

2 A case of mistaken identity

The Phillies have long been known for smart baserunning and strong defense.

Not yesterday.

Raul Ibanez was only charged with one error, but he misplayed two balls in left field. And Wilson Valdez was stymied on a sharp liner at second base. Meanwhile, Shane Victorino was picked off at first base in the bottom of the fifth.

3 Runs were at a premium

The Phils came into yesterday’s matinee averaging 7.2 runs per game in afternoon tilts. But aside from Placido Polanco’s first-inning bomb, there wasn’t much run support for Hamels.
In fact, the biggest cheers came when Carlos Ruiz blasted a sacrifice fly to center in the eighth to plate Ryan Howard and break the 2-2 deadlock. –Michael Greger/Metro

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