Unlikely heroes lead Phillies over Padres

Unlikely heroes lead Phillies over Padres

Unlikely heroes lead Phillies over Padres
PHILADELPHIA -- Vance Worley gave the Phillies a quality start and then turned the game over to the bullpen.

Everybody knew what that meant. The Phillies executives sitting in the private boxes. Manager Charlie Manuel and his coaches in the dugout. Every one of the 44,056 fans in the 218th-straight regular season sellout at Citizens Bank Park.

It meant that the Phillies relievers were about to be tested. Again. After three straight losses against the Mets in which the 'pen allowed late leads to slip away, triggering a postgame lecture by Manuel after the latest defeat.

This time, Antonio Bastardo contributed two shutout innings, including striking out the side in the eighth, the lineup tacked on a pair of insurance runs, Chad Qualls took care of business in the ninth and the Phillies beat the Padres, 7-3.

"I feel good about it," Bastardo said. "Because everyone can have a hard time in this game. Qualls made an adjustment to get his slider good and I made a little adjustment, too. I was a little inconsistent, but taking the ball out of my glove a little earlier helped."

There was a sense in the postgame clubhouse that Manuel's tirade was a needed kick in the pants.

"He was really mad," said catcher Carlos Ruiz, who had three hits, including his sixth home run of the year, and three RBI. "His face was as red as mine is now. But we needed that. He said a lot of good things because we weren't showing too much energy."

Added John Mayberry Jr., who is showing signs of coming out of his early season slump: "Charlie's pep talk kind of hit home. There's a sense of urgency. We had to pick it up and I think people saw that in this game."

Worley sensed a different mood. "There was a little more focus, yeah," he said. "It was a little bit more quiet in here. There wasn't too much music. I think some of the guys kind of took it to heart and sat around and talked about it and really came out to play."

The bullpen has only been part of the problem for a team that hasn't been over .500 since Opening Day. Lack of offense has also been a concern. One obvious factor is that they're without first basemen Jim Thome and Ryan Howard, both on the disabled list, both still weeks away from returning.

Just as important, though, is that they haven't been getting the production they hoped for from hitters who are healthy. Guys like Mayberry, who appeared to have come into his own last season, batting .309 with 10 homers and 34 RBI in his last 55 games.

That's why his line shot into the left-center field seats with two outs and one on off Padres starter Clayton Richard in the second inning was so encouraging. It was his first home run of the year after coming into the game batting .225 with three RBIs. He drove in a third run with a single in the seventh.

Mayberry said the biggest difference is that he's standing a little more upright. "It's really small, but you can see it in the video," he said. "A little can mean a lot."

He added that finally hitting his first home run of the year was a weight off his shoulders. "It's always good to get the first one. This was a nice win for us but it's baseball and you play every day. So now our focus is on the next game."

Ruiz, who hadn't played since Tuesday because of a sore left hand, hit a two-run homer in the fourth, an opposite-field shot to right-center. He ended the night with three hits and three RBIs to raise his average to .340.

Ruiz is one of the holdovers who has more than held his own so far. He's just two home runs short of his career high, accomplished last year, and has 22 RBIs. His personal best is 54, set in 2007.

The fact that Mayberry, now hitting .314 in his last 17 games after batting .175 in his first 16 is encouraging. So is Ruiz's hot start and the apparent tonic provided by the manager's pointed remarks. None of that, however, mattered as much as having a bullpen that, for this game at least, was able to close the deal.

Paul Hagan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.