Jonathan Papelbon set St. Louis down in order in the 10th to seal the victory for his National League-leading 14th save in 14 opportunities this season, but the Cardinals nearly took the lead in the eighth on a bang-bang play at the plate to break a 3-3 tie.
A two-out double by Matt Adams led to a collision at the plate between Yadier Molina and catcher Carlos Ruiz. Center fielder Shane Victorino fielded the ball on the warning track in right-center and fired it perfectly to second baseman Freddy Galvis in shallow right. Galvis fired a strike at home to gun down Molina attempting to score from first. Molina clobbered Ruiz, but Ruiz was able to hang on for the out.
"I don't think it was dirty. I think it was a clean play. I was just trying to score," Molina said of trucking Ruiz. "I hate to do that. I think this is my first time doing that in my whole career, my whole life, so I hate doing that to another catcher, but it's part of the game. If it happened to me, I wouldn't say anything back either."
The close play at the plate wouldn't have been possible if it weren't for Galvis' throw, though. It was a play Pence could only describe as "perfect execution."
"I love to watch him," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said of Galvis. "I rave about him a lot because he's absolutely unreal to be a rookie in the big leagues and have knowledge of the game like that and play that ... loose kind of baseball. That's unreal. Keeps his cool, always focused on what he's doing, always around the ball, always around the action."
Galvis' solid defense came after another quality start from Phillies starter Cliff Lee. As has become an unfortunate theme for the veteran left-hander this season, he puts his team in position to win but doesn't emerge with the victory. Despite allowing three runs over seven innings, Lee (0-2) is still without a win this year.
"It's just one of those things," Lee said of his winless record. "My job is to get deep into the game, give my team a chance to win and put up as many zeroes as I can. That's what I'm going to try and do every time. If I get a win ... great. If the team gets a win ... even better."
Lee received early run support, as Jimmy Rollins hit a two-out single into right that scored Placido Polanco from second in the second inning. Polanco and Galvis hit back-to-back singles with one out before Rollins' hit. An error by Adams on a chopper hit to the right side by Juan Pierre brought in another run.
Lee allowed a home run to Rafael Furcal in the third to make it 2-2, and a strange sequence of events occurred in the fourth to allow the Cards to take a 3-2 lead.
David Freese hit a ball deep to center that caromed off the base of the wall. Victorino appeared to be parked underneath it, but he began to back pedal, twisting and turning as he lost the ball in the night sky. Freese then scored on a Molina single up the middle.
In the next at-bat, there was more confusion in the outfield. A ball hit high to right by Adams dropped in between Victorino and Pence.
"I didn't see either one. I didn't see [the Freese triple] or mine," Pence said. "It's just that twilight time. There's maybe a good 10 minutes a night that the ball and the sky look the same."
The second lost ball didn't cause any damage, though, as Victorino's throw from right arrived just in time to catch Molina at third for the first out of the inning, and Lee worked around another single to get out of the inning without allowing another run.
Victorino and Lee had an argument in the dugout after the inning. Lee did not give any reason for the tense discussion, and he did not say whether it was related to the fly balls that weren't caught.
"They had some heated words. Baseball's baseball," Manuel said. "That's good sometimes. There's nothing wrong with that. They didn't see eye-to-eye on something and that stays in here."
Lee, who had two hits on Friday, scored the game-tying run in the seventh inning on Pierre's double to right field.
The win, much like Thursday night's victory, did not come easily. Manuel's club had to dig deep and battle the whole way. But the Phillies' manager is just happy to be on the right side of .500 again.
"These two here, we just need to win some games," Manuel said. "It's what we need to do, and hopefully we can continue."