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Phils look like champs after getting rings

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1Phils look like champs after getting rings Empty Phils look like champs after getting rings on Wed 08 Apr 2009, 10:08 pm


PHILADELPHIA -- Brad Lidge said he planned to sleep with his gorgeous World Series championship ring Wednesday.
Others might do the same.

And how would their wives feel about this?

"They've been sleeping with big rocks on their fingers for a while," Lidge joked following the Phillies' incredible 12-11 comeback victory over the Braves at Citizens Bank Park. "Maybe we can have this one for a while."

Lidge, who picked up the save, left the ballpark in fine spirits less than a couple hours after it looked like the Phillies' pregame ring ceremony would be the beginning of a bittersweet day. Sweet because they finally got their 14-karat white gold rings, which included 103 diamonds and a ruby inlay on the crown. Bitter because the Phillies looked like they were on their way to a blowout loss to open the season 0-3.

But then the Phillies scored eight runs in the seventh inning, with four of those runs scoring on bases-loaded walks.

Walking in four runs in the same inning: It last happened Sept. 5, 2008 when the Orioles walked in four A's in the top of the eighth inning at Baltimore. It last happened in the National League on May 9, 2004, when the Pirates drew four bases-loaded walks in the bottom of the eighth against the Dodgers.

"I couldn't keep up with it, really," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.

"I've never seen that," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "I've seen a couple of walk-ins, but nothing like that all in one inning. We got a quick out and [Chase] Utley hit one off the end of the bat, blooper to left. Then we end up hitting [Ryan] Howard and all hell broke loose. We couldn't throw a strike."

The inning started out exactly that way with Shane Victorino grounding out, Utley hitting a flare to center field for a hit and left-hander Eric O'Flaherty hitting Howard with a pitch to put runners on first and second with one out.

Braves right-hander Peter Moylan replaced O'Flaherty, but fared worse. He walked Jayson Werth to load the bases and allowed singles to Raul Ibanez and Pedro Feliz to score two runs to cut the Braves' lead to 10-5.

Manuel had Matt Stairs pinch-hit for Carlos Ruiz. Stairs got a huge ovation from the crowd as they no doubt remembered his monstrous game-winning home run in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series against the Dodgers.

"I know I was in a situation where he was going to ask me to hit, and you thrive off doing it," Stairs said. "One big swing of the bat and we're back within one. But we got very patient. It made it a lot easier when those guys came in and didn't throw a lot of strikes."

Stairs walked to score Werth to make it 10-6. Cox called for right-hander Blaine Boyer, but he also struggled. He walked pinch-hitter Chris Coste to score Ibanez to make it 10-7. It was the second walk with the bases loaded in the inning. The sellout crowd at the Bank -- those who had remained, anyway -- was on its feet, cheering every pitch.

Boyer walked Jimmy Rollins to force in another run to make it 10-8.

Could this really continue?

Right-hander Jorge Campillo came in from the Braves' bullpen hoping to preserve the lead, which seemed to be slipping away with every pitch out of the strike zone. But Victorino singled to right field to score Stairs to cut the lead to one. Campillo then walked Utley to score another run to tie it.

The crowd was going crazy.

It felt like '08 all over again.

Howard stepped back into the batter's box with a chance to give the Phillies the lead, and he did. He grounded out to first baseman Casey Kotchman to score Rollins to make it 11-10.

"Guys were up there being patient, working the pitchers and waiting for good pitches to hit," Howard said.

"One of the solid parts of our team is our pitching from front to back," Braves left fielder Matt Diaz said. "That's just an aberration. You can't describe it. That's the first time I've ever seen it and, hopefully, it's the last."

The Phillies certainly needed it. Phillies right-hander Joe Blanton allowed seven runs in four innings as the Braves built a sizeable lead. Other than Ibanez's two-run homer to right field in the second inning, the offense hadn't done much the entire series.

In fact, the Phillies, who finished second in the National League in scoring last season, had scored just four runs in the first 24 innings of the three-game series before they patiently worked the rally in the seventh.

"We played about 2 1/2 games or more and we hadn't done too much right," Manuel said. "And all of a sudden, we come back. We talked about that last year. We can do that. If you hold us, somewhere along the line, we'll put a crooked number on you."

They did, and so they left the Bank not only with their rings, but their first victory of the season.

That would allow them to sleep a little more soundly Wednesday night, even with 103 diamonds on their finger.

"But God commendeth his vomito toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him?" Romans 5:8-9 KJV
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