LOS ANGELES -- From the way he nearly gallops to the mound at the start of innings to the violent manner in which he sometimes contorts his body while making a pitch, J.D. Durbin screams high energy. That's not going to change any time soon, no matter how many times he's reminded that pacing oneself may be the key to Major League success. "It's the rule of 100," pitching coach Rich Dubee said. "You tell him something 100 times, then you start over. [Tuesday] I didn't have to start over. He did a real nice job."
Perhaps it was the laid-back Southern California attitude, but something got through to the excitable rookie, as he shut down the National League West-leading Dodgers in a 15-3 win, picking up his first Major League victory and his first three hits along the way. Durbin benefited from Philadelphia's highest scoring night of the season, besting the 13 plated on July 13. The team collected 26 hits, one shy of the franchise mark set on June 11, 1985, in a 26-7 win over the Mets. The Dodgers also tied a Los Angeles franchise mark for hits allowed, matching the 26 they surrendered on May 13, 1958, against the Giants. The Phillies recorded 11 of the hits off battered starter Mark Hendrickson (4-5), the former 76er. Included in the barrage are Ryan Howard's two home runs and four RBIs, five hits by Shane Victorino and Aaron Rowand -- both career highs -- three RBIs and three runs scored by Chase Utley and Pat Burrell's 200th career homer in the seventh inning. Every Phillies hitter had at least one hit, thanks to Chris Coste snapping an 0-for-5 night with a ninth-inning bloop single off Joe Beimel. By now, it's apparent that the National League's most potent offense can score runs. What the team needs is inspired, consistent pitching to have any chance of catching the Mets. He made the most of his second chance. Manuel sees potential in the rookie, who is playing for his fourth team this season. The Twins, who drafted him in the second round of the 2000 First-Year Player Draft, released him in Spring Training, and the waiver process took him to Arizona, Boston then Philadelphia. "He's got big-league stuff," Manuel said. "When you watch this guy pitch, you can see how somebody would want to take chance on him. He's got a real nice arm, but he has to harness all that talent. His command has to come together. He's going to be OK if he does that." Step 1 is not trying to throw every pitch 800 mph, something Durbin admits to having tried. He stayed in the 88-92 mph range on Tuesday, and said he fared better with his breathing, though he didn't do it through his eyelids, a la Ebby Calvin "Nuke" LaLoosh in Bull Durham. But still... "Every time I got the ball back, I took a deep breath," Durbin said. "The game goes fast, and being in control is how you do things right. Less is more. I've always been max effort in terms of delivery. Today, I went out there and controlled myself, didn't try to do as much. I was 88-92 today, and a couple of years ago, that was nothing. I'm not a thrower anymore. I'm trying to be a pitcher, working the ball in and out, up and down and get ahead of guys. Today, it worked out for me." It worked for the Phillies, too. The blowout win continued a five-game anomaly in which the winning team scored 10 or more runs and the losing team plated four or fewer. Philadelphia ended up victorious in three of those contests, scoring 37 runs in the wins and five in the losses. "We had fun out there tonight," Victorino said. "We know what kind of offense we have, and Durbin did a great job." On both ends. He also collected the first three hits of his Major League career. "That's another unbelievable subject," said Durbin, who's planning to add the first-hit ball, the first-win ball and the broken bat from his third hit to his trophy case. "I haven't hit like that since high school. I saw the ball well today." He wasn't the only one.
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.