Lineup balance is swell and all, but sometimes you only need a few hitters to click in order to put up big numbers. Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, and Raul Ibanez combined for nine hits in 15 at-bats Thursday afternoon as the Phillies put up a dozen runs against Cincinnati starter Micah Owings and a parade of ineffectual relievers. The Phils scored in seven of the game's nine innings, getting home runs from Greg Dobbs, Utley, Ryan Howard, and Ibanez to win another series on the road.
For the first four innings at least, it looked like the pitching would merit huzzahs as well. Joe Blanton consistently got ahead of Reds batters, allowing just three hits and notching four strikeouts as the Phils raced out to a 6-0 lead. But some well-placed hits got the Reds back to 6-2 in the fifth, and then Brandon Phillips made it a one-run game with a three-run homer. Blanton did register the win, but his final numbers--five innings, seven hits, five runs, a walk, and four Ks--were unspectacular.
Fortunately, the Phils went right back to work on the offensive side, scoring once in the 6th with the help of some aggressive baserunning by Carlos Ruiz--who crossed the plate for the first time in 2009--and Rollins. They then put up a four-spot in the 7th, highlighted by Howard's solo homer and a two-run pinch-double from Pedro Feliz. Ibanez slugged his 15th home run an inning later to tie for the NL lead, and relievers Clay Condrey, Scott Eyre, Chan Ho Park and Sergio Escalona each chipped in a scoreless inning of relief.
The Phils now travel to the Bronx for three games with the Yankees, who seek their ninth straight win Thursday night against our old acquaintance Adam Eaton. They lead the idle Mets by a game and a half in the NL East.