The Phillies' home problems are a distant memory. Today's win over the Pirates completed a 9-1 stretch in the final ten games before the All-Star break, all at Citizens Bank Park, for one of the ten best homestands in franchise history.
Unlike last night's comeback stunner or the last two wins over the Reds, the Phils jumped on Pittsburgh early and led all afternoon. Pirates starter Virgil Vasquez surrendered five runs in the first inning, the last four on a grand slam by Pedro Feliz; though the Phils didn't score the rest of the way, as Jeff Karstens led a parade of effective Bucs relievers, they didn't need any more. J.A. Happ turned in another great start, working seven innings of one-run, four-hit ball to improve to 6-0 and join the National League's ERA leaders at 2.90; Happ might be working his way into Rookie of the Year consideration, a few dozen trade rumors between now and the end of the month, or both. Ryan Madson and J.C. Romero worked the last two innings, with Romero surrendering another monster home run to Pirates journeyman Garrett Jones--whose three homers in this series nearly doubled his career total--but allowing no additional damage.
The victory brought the Phillies to the break at ten games over .500, with at least a four-game lead over Florida--their first opponent of the second half in a four-game set starting Thursday--and a home record of 22-23, which looks pretty good considering that when July began, it sat at 13-22.