It was getting awfully tight at the top of the NL East and the Phillies needed some breathing room. Tonight, Jamie Moyer gave it to them, allowing just two runs over six innings and leading the Phillies to a 4-2 win.
Moyer has always pitched extremely well against Florida and tonight was no exception. He didn't allow a baserunner until the fourth inning and was able to win his ninth game of the season. The win also gave him his tenth in ten starts against Florida.
Despite his early dominance, he did run into some trouble in the fourth. Moyer put runners on the corners with none out, then allowed a Jorge Cantu RBI single. Mike Jacobs, who homered twice off Moyer in their last meeting, singled to load the bases. The Phillies entered the inning with a 4-0 lead, thanks in part to home runs by Ryan Howard and Geoff Jenkins, but with the lead down to three runs and the bases loaded and no outs, things were beginning to look grim.
Fortunately, batting for the Marlins was the now-famous, or perhaps infamous, All-Star, Dan Uggla. While Uggla's fielding gaffes may not have carried over from the All-Star Game (he retired the first two Phillies batters of the game on routine grounders and received a hearty ovation as a result), his hitting apparently did. Uggla chopped a grounder to Jimmy Rollins, who turned the 6-4-3 double play. Jeremy Hermida scored on the play, but it was a phenomenal job of damage control by Moyer (with a little help from Uggla, of course). Josh Willingham fouled out to Howard in the next at-bat, ending the inning with the Phillies still in front, 4-2.
After the fourth inning scare, the Marlins were unable to threaten. They put a grand total of two runners on over the last five innings. Moyer went another two innings, then the bullpen took over. Chad Durbin and J.C. Romero combined for two scoreless innings and Brad Lidge showed no ill effects from losing the All-Star Game, gunning down the Marlins in order in the ninth. Fittingly, Uggla popped out to second for the final out.
This was an encouraging way for the Phillies to start the second half. Moyer had another strong outing and the bullpen was dominant once again. While the scoreboard might not reflect it, the offense looked good as well. Though they only had four runs to show for it, all the Phillies' big bats produced tonight. Howard homered and Rollins, Utley, and Burrell all doubled. Even Jenkins got into it, going 2 for 3 with a home run and 2 RBIs. (The one notable exception was Pedro Feliz, who achieved the golden sombrero, going 0 for 4 with four strikeouts.)
The win, coupled with the Mets' loss to the Reds, returns sole possession of the NL East to the Phillies, if only for a day. It also pushed the Marlins to 2.5 games out of first. Next the Phillies take on Scott Olsen, who shut down the Padres in his last start, allowing one run over eight innings. Of course, the last time he faced a good offense, he received no decision in the 18-17 slugfest in which Colorado came out on top.
The Phillies send out Kyle Kendrick, who hasn't lost a road start since April 9th. Tomorrow's game is a big one for the Phillies, as a win tomorrow would make the sweep very likely, with Cole Hamels taking on Josh Johnson on Sunday.