Phillies win sixth straight, still alive in wild card race

It’s been a long time since a Phillies team celebrated reaching the .500 mark in September. But Jonathan Papelbon jumped off the mound triumphantly after he saved the Phillies’ 9-7 win over the Marlins.

Jimmy Rollins, who said to watch out for a Phillies September surge two weeks ago, was smiling from ear to ear after the game.

“Being .500 has never made so much noise around here,” Rollins said.

Rollins’ two-run homer, which moved him past Hunter Pence for the team lead in home runs with 18, was huge and it shouldn’t have happened. Marlins catcher Rob Brantly dropped an innocuous foul ball behind the plate. That gave Rollins new life.

“Whenever something like that happens, I usually end up making an out,” Rollins said. “I’ll hit a broken-bat ground ball to shortstop or something.”

Not this time. Rollins blasted the next pitch into the right-field stands. Just after Rollins’ swing, Brantly slammed his catcher’s mask off the plate.

The Phillies hit the ball with authority, which was seldom seen during the disastrous first half of the season. It was only the 10th time this season the Phillies scored nine or more runs in a game. Juan Pierre and Chase Utley had three hits apiece.

Roy Halladay had an uneven start, but he earned his 10th win of the season. Doc expressed displeasure on the mound after giving up some big hits. Obviously, he was happy postgame that the Phillies picked up another win in the hope of returning to the playoffs for the sixth consecutive season. Halladay was pleased for rookie Phillippe Aumont. The hulking reliever impressed during the eighth inning. After allowing the first two runners to reach, Amount retired the next three hitters, the last two courtesy of strikeouts.

“It was definitely the biggest challenge I’ve faced up here,” Aumont said after appearing in his eighth major-league game.

It was an impressive effort as the Phillies took one step closer to scoring an improbable wild card berth.

“We have a lot of flags hanging up,” Rollins said. “But we don’t have a wild card flag. It’ll be a good time to get one.”

If the Phillies, who are just four games behind the St. Louis Cardinals for the second wild card spot, make the playoffs, they’ll hope they can trade the wild card flag in for something more substantial. But they have to get to the postseason first.

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