The Full Count: Can the Phillies overcome (being the Phillies)?


1. Wild Card Warriors: The Phillies are playing extremely well and have nearly caught up with the Padres for the wild card lead. After three straight wins, they are only 1.5 games back. They beat the Rockies 6-5 in a comeback victory. Down 5-2 in the seventh after a Matt Holliday homer, the Phillies tied the score off of Pat Burrell’s three-run shot. They won in the 10th inning thanks to Ryan Howard’s RBI double. Howard also hit his 38th homer earlier in the game. The Phillies haven’t gotten any closer to the Mets, who have four straight wins and lead the division by six games. However, they are the hottest team among the wild card contenders, with a 10-5 record their last fifteen games. That gives them a decent shot at making a playoff run.

2. Back to a Draw: The Brewers-Cubs division battle has been back-and-forth recently. After the Brewers took the lead on Sunday, their loss and the Cubs’ win on Monday has tied up the division again. The Cubs routed St. Louis 12-3, giving the Cardinals their fourth loss in a row. Ted Lilly, who is having an excellent season at 15-7 with a 3.85 ERA, picked up the win with a solid start. Chicago’s offense gave him plenty of help, as Aramis Ramirez went 4-5 with two homers and Derrek Lee had three hits and a homer. Meanwhile, the Brewers were crushed 9-0 by the pitiful Pirates. All five Brewers pitchers who appeared allowed a run, while the offense only mustered four hits. This division race, by far the closest in baseball, will be decided by which team can do better against poor opposition. Both teams have a remarkably easy schedule down the stretch.

3. Good News and Bad News: The Tigers had an up-and-down day on Monday. They beat the Blue Jays 5-4 with a four-run rally in the ninth inning. Magglio Ordonez went 4-5 and had the game-winning hit, and Curtis Granderson had two RBIs. On the other hand, they lost Jeremy Bonderman for the season. Bonderman, who had lost 7 of his last 8 decisions, has an elbow injury. It won’t require surgery, but it is severe enough to shut him down the rest of the year. The injury gives a reason for Bonderman’s struggles, as he had an 8.23 ERA his last ten starts after going 10-1 with a 3.53 ERA previously.

Player of the Day: Scott Kazmir, Devil Rays: 7 innings, 5 hits, no runs, 10 strikeouts in a 1-0 win over Boston.

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