Speedy Pierre helps Phils walk off in 11

Speedy Pierre helps Phils walk off in 11

Speedy Pierre helps Phils walk off in 11
PHILADELPHIA -- Juan Pierre signaled "safe" with his hands, pumped his left fist straight into the air and jumped into the arms of reliever Jeremy Horst.

"I was a little excited," Pierre said. "I got inspired watching Usain Bolt last night. I had a chance to go through the finish line there at first base and just got excited, man."

For the seventh time in their last nine wins at Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia won in its final at-bat. Pierre, the 13-year veteran and ultimate team player, beat out an infield single that allowed the Phillies to walk off with an 8-7, 11-inning win against the Cardinals.

It was the fifth win of the Phillies' nine-game homestand, marking just their second winning homestand of the season. The Phillies are back in fourth place, a half-game ahead of the Marlins as they head to Miami for a three-game set.

"Textbook baseball," manager Charlie Manuel said with a smile as he stepped to the podium for his postgame news conference.

With two outs and Jimmy Rollins on third base in the bottom of the 11th, Pierre chopped a ball to Cardinals shortstop Rafael Furcal. The speedy outfielder busted it down the first-base line, Furcal briefly stumbled backward on a tough play, and Pierre just beat the throw to first. Rollins, who stole third base to set up the run, crossed home plate and the Phillies took the series.

"Just battling," Pierre said. "I didn't have a particularly good day at the plate. Against the lefty [Barret Browning], just went old-school Wiffle ball on him, honestly. Didn't feel good all day, but one thing you can do every day is fight. And I just battled."

The Phillies were in position to win mostly because of Erik Kratz and good relief work. In the bottom of the eighth inning, Kratz, the catcher who has taken over the starting job since Carlos Ruiz went on the disabled list last week, snapped an 0-for-11 skid with a game-tying three-run home run that just cleared the left-field fence in the bottom of the eighth inning.

"He's doing a [heck] of a job for us," said starter Vance Worley, who allowed four runs on nine hits over 5 1/3 innings. "Both behind the dish, throwing guys out, defensively and he's hitting the ball. That's one thing that we need right now is a bat, and he seems to be the hot bat."

Kratz's long ball erased a three-run top half of the inning for the Cardinals against Phillies' right-hander Michael Schwimer. Closer Jonathan Papelbon needed just five pitches to throw a scoreless ninth, and left-hander Horst blanked the Cardinals in the 10th and 11th innings.

Horst might have been the first one out of the dugout to greet Pierre after the game-winning single. But who could blame him? It was his first Major League win.

"I've been waiting for this win since I was a little kid," he said. "Everybody dreams about getting that victory."

For Pierre, it was only his second start of the month. The Phillies are trying to get an extended look at Nate Schierholtz and Domonic Brown in the outfield, which has forced the veteran to sit on the bench a little more than during the first half of the season.

When the Phillies acquired Schierholtz and called up Brown on July 31, Manuel sat down with Pierre and alerted him his playing time would likely decrease. Pierre told Manuel he would be ready when he needed him.

"He's very professional," Manuel said. "First guy at the ballpark, and he's the last one to leave. He does his work every day. He makes sure he's ready to go in the game when he gets a chance. And he doesn't say anything about his playing time."

Instead, he's making the most of the chances he does get, whether it's as a pinch-hitter, a pinch-runner or in an occasional start -- like on Sunday.

"Still playing a kid's game," Pierre said. "No matter where you are in the standings, to win a big league game is always special and I never want to take that for granted."

Jake Kaplan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.