Phils hold off Fish, win sixth straight, return to .500

Phils hold off Fish, win sixth straight, return to .500

Phils hold off Fish, win sixth straight, return to .500
PHILADELPHIA -- Jimmy Rollins sees a lot of flags flying high above Ashburn Alley at Citizens Bank Park.

Each one represents one of the World Series championships, National League championships or National League East championships the Phillies have won throughout their 129-year history. There are no National League Wild Card flags.

"It would be a good time to get one," Rollins said.

The Phillies are making a run, although the odds remain long. But they took an important step Tuesday in a 9-7 victory over the Miami Marlins at Citizens Bank Park. They improved to 71-71, the first time they have been .500 since June 4.

"Being .500 has never made so much noise around here," Rollins said. "I'm glad that it can."

The Phillies are 14-4 since Aug. 22, which is the best record in baseball in that span. They left the ballpark just 4 1/2 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals for the second NL Wild Card spot.

Is a Wild Card really possible? Sure.

Is it likely? Well, Baseball Prospectus' postseason odds report calculated the Phillies with a 0.6 percent chance entering Tuesday. So they need a few things to go their way with just 20 games to play. They certainly need to continue their torrid pace, but they also need the Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates, Los Angeles Dodgers and Milwaukee Brewers to lose.

That is why the Phillies aren't thinking too much about it.

Not yet.

"I think when things are going well, you don't mess with it," said Roy Halladay, who allowed five runs in 6 1/3 innings. "We've been playing well and not really worrying about that. I think that's kind of what we need to do. Obviously, all of us want to be there. We want to give ourselves a chance to make it close. But I think the reason we've got to that point is we've been kind of going out and playing and not really worrying about it."

Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon, who picked up his 33rd save of the season with a perfect ninth, said they need to forget about the one-game-at-a-time cliché and focus on the one-out-at-a-time cliché.

Tuesday showed just how important every out is.

The Phillies took a 3-0 lead in the first. Rollins and Juan Pierre hit back-to-back singles and Chase Utley walked to get things started. Ryan Howard hit into a double play, which scored Rollins to make it 1-0. Carlos Ruiz, who started for the first time since Aug. 2 because of an injured left foot, doubled to right field to score Pierre to make it 2-0. Domonic Brown, who hit a big two-run home run in Monday's victory, singled to center field to score Ruiz to make it 3-0.

The Marlins scored a couple of runs in the third inning to make it a 3-2 game, but the Phillies built an 8-3 lead, with Rollins hitting a big two-run home run in the sixth. Marlins catcher Rob Brantly dropped a popup in foul territory during the at-bat. Rollins crushed the next pitch for a home run.

"I usually make an out right after that," Rollins said. "I've definitely had some popups dropped. It usually ends up with a broken-bat ground ball to the shortstop or second baseman. The next pitch it happened, and it was big because we needed every single run."

Halladay and the bullpen allowed four runs in the seventh to make it 8-7. But Rollins continued his big night with a sacrifice fly to right field to score John Mayberry Jr. in the bottom of the inning to give the Phillies a two-run lead.

Rollins finished the night 2-for-3 with one walk, one home run, three RBIs and three runs scored.

Phillippe Aumont got some big outs in the eighth. After putting two runners on, he struck out Justin Ruggiano and Jose Reyes on splitters to end the inning.

"It was definitely my biggest challenge," Aumont said. "I had people on second and third with one out. You've got to stay focused and get out of there."

Papelbon picked up the save. He downplayed the significance of getting to .500, which falls in line with Halladay's thinking that overthinking would do the Phillies no good right now.

There's no reason to get excited yet.

"This is the big leagues, man," Papelbon said. "Ain't nobody here need an ego boost, you know? If your ego gets bruised in this game, you don't last long."

The Phillies have lasted a little longer than most people expected. They were 14 under .500 on July 13, and with a victory Wednesday, they can have a winning record.

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.