The early lesson of the 2009 season: never turn off a Phillies game. Down most of the evening against the Marlins in Florida, the Phillies rallied to scratch out a run in the 9th inning and put two across to win it in the 10th, after Brad Lidge completed another adventurous save opportunity with a bases-loaded strikeout of Cody Ross to end it.
With the exception of one inning, five Phillies pitchers kept the Marlins off the scoreboard. But Florida's four-run fourth--on a three-run homer by Jorge Cantu and a solo shot from Dan Uggla--looked like it would stand up against a Phillies attack that had managed just two solo home runs and a run-scoring double play through the first eight innings. Jayson Werth began tonight's ninth-inning rally by drawing a walk against Marlins fill-in closer Leo Nunez (Matt Lindstrom having been rendered unavailable owing to fatigue and/or PTSD after allowing six ninth-inning runs last night), then advancing to third on Raul Ibanez's single. After pinch-hitter Greg Dobbs struck out, pinch-hitter Matt Stairs plated Werth on a groundout.
Ryan Madson held Florida off the board in the 9th with two strikeouts, and the Phils put together the eventual winning run in the 10th on a Shane Victorino single followed by a steal of second base and a Chase Utley single. Hits by Ryan Howard and Werth produced another run. Then it was time to hold on in the 9th as Lidge followed two strikeouts with a double and two walks to load the bases--both walks coming on full counts. With one strike, Ross jumped on a Lidge slider--but pulled it foul. He then ended it by flailing at another breaking pitch, the bat flying out toward the middle of the field.
Earlier, Chan Ho Park turned in one of the Phils' better starts of the season, going seven innings and allowing four runs on five hits and a walk while fanning five. (He also hit an implausible solo homer to give the Phils a 1-0 lead in the third.) But Park's lapse in the fourth--when he put the leadoff man on and then got agitated at a close-call ball four before surrendering the two home runs--meant that the Phlls extended their major-league record of 16 straight games to start the season in which they allowed a home run, and fell behind for the 16th straight game as well. The question is whether the eight April comeback wins constitute, and the eight comeback wins to start a season, constitute records as well.
Jamie Moyer takes his 11-1 lifetime record against the Marlins to the mound tomorrow, with lefty Graham Taylor, a minor league callup, to start for the Fish.