Sizemore's pinch-hit blast drives Phils' sweep

Outfielder delivers go-ahead homer as Philadelphia tops Nationals

Sizemore's pinch-hit blast drives Phils' sweep

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies signed Grady Sizemore to a Minor League contract on June 24 because they had some of the worst production of any outfield in baseball, and if they could find a way to compete, they wanted options.

The Phillies never came close to a Wild Card run, but Sizemore joined the team July 11 and has played pretty well since.

He hit a pinch-hit, two-run home run with two outs in the sixth inning on Wednesday in an 8-4 victory over the Nationals at Citizens Bank Park. It gave the Phillies a one-run lead on their way to a three-game sweep as the Phils finished 7-2 on their homestand against the Mariners, Cardinals and Nationals.

"Yeah, just a ball up in the zone and I was able to do something with it," Sizemore said about the 0-2 curveball from Nationals right-hander Doug Fister.

Sizemore is hitting .307 (35-for-114) with nine doubles, two triples, two home runs, nine RBIs and an .815 OPS in 120 plate appearances with the Phillies.

"He's a quality at-bat, that's for sure," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "He puts the bat on the ball. He has done a nice job against some left-handed pitching in a pinch. He gives a quality at-bat. He really does. He stays right in there. And obviously he can play the outfield."

But what does it all mean? Sizemore is a free agent following the season, but sources have said the Phillies think Sizemore could be part of their 2015 roster. While it would be risky to count on him as an everyday player considering his extensive injury history -- he missed much of the 2010-11 seasons and the entire 2012-13 seasons because of injuries -- the organization believes Sizemore has value in a potential platoon in left field with Darin Ruf.

Of course, that only happens if the Phillies move on from Domonic Brown.

"I think everyone wants to play every day," Sizemore said. "I'll see what's out there. Honestly, I'm just trying to finish this year and worry about next year, next year."

As far as his health, Sizemore said, "Things have been good, real good. I feel strong, feel like I'm getting better and stronger as time goes on, so that's a good sign. I honestly don't know what [100 percent healthy] is going to feel like. I don't know what the limit is or where the ceiling is. I'm just trying to improve and stay strong and build off each day."

But at least the Phillies have something to think about, because at the moment they have no outfield prospects in the farm system close to competing for a job in Spring Training.

Sizemore saved Phillies right-hander Kyle Kendrick, who allowed seven hits and four runs in six innings. Kendrick, who has allowed at least four runs in each of his last four starts, entered the night with a 4.93 ERA, which was the fourth-highest ERA among 93 qualifying pitchers in baseball.

His first-inning struggles continued. Kendrick allowed a leadoff single to Denard Span, who scored on Anthony Rendon's double to left field to hand the Nationals a 1-0 lead just two batters into the game. Rendon eventually scored to make it 2-0.

Kendrick has a 10.00 ERA (30 earned runs in 27 innings) in the first inning this season, which is the highest mark in baseball for pitchers with 20 or more starts and on pace for the highest mark in franchise history.

"Jimmy [Rollins] said I might have tipped [my pitches] a little bit, so I changed some things in my glove," Kendrick said about his first-inning struggles.

The Phillies tied the game in the bottom of the first. Rollins hit his 17th homer of the season, a solo shot that landed in the first row in right field. Chase Utley scored the tying run with help from an error from Span in center field.

Kendrick allowed a leadoff double to Span in the third. He scored on Jayson Werth's one-out single to left to make it 3-2. Span then crushed his second home run of the season to right field in the fifth inning to make it 4-2.

But Brown's double to right-center field in the sixth scored Marlon Byrd to make it 4-3. Three batters later, Sizemore hit his homer to take the lead.

Byrd hit a two-run homer in the seventh and Ryan Howard added an RBI single in the eighth to give the Phillies a cushion.

"I think we played well the last couple series, a lot of big hits and a lot of good pitching performances," Sizemore said. "Guys are playing with a lot of energy. It's fun when you win."

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