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Game 145: Playing Time For Ruf?

HOUSTON — Nearly a week has passed and the Phillies have yet to turn Double-A outfield prospect Darin Ruf loose on Major League hitting.

The fans on Twitter have been growing a bit restless at this notion, and deservedly so. But they also have to remember that Ruf, despite being 26, has never faced hitting above the Double-A level, and that is a huge jump.

The main reason Charlie Manuel wanted Ruf in Philadelphia the first place was to see what Ruf can do first-hand, and work with the slugger’s hitting mechanics to prepare him for a season in Triple-A Lehigh Valley next season.

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The Hangover 3: Zimmerman’s PH wins it for Nats

Phils RF Hunter Pence makes a diving catch in the 4th inning. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Your 2011 NL East Phillies are 0-3 when playing meaningless baseball.

Ryan Zimmerman’s pinch-hit single in the top of the 10th drove in the winning run on Michael Stutes to give the Nationals a 4-3 lead and win.

The result took away from an impressive start from Kyle Kendrick, who may just take Vance Worley’s spot in the rotation if they move Worley to the bull pen to prepare him for the post season.

Kendrick pitched six shut out innings, allowing only four hits while striking out four. His outing was matched by Nats starter Tom Milone, who also pitched six scoreless innings with four hits and two strike outs.

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Series Preview: at Houston Astros

PHI: 94-49, 1st in NL East; HOU: 49-97, 1st in NL Central

When: September 12-14
Where: Minute Maid Park (Houston, TX)

Probable Pitchers
Monday: Roy Oswalt (7-8, 3.72) vs Brett Myers (4-13, 4.66)
Tuesday: Cole Hamels (14-7, 2.60) vs J.A. Happ (5-15, 5.77)
Wednesday: Roy Halladay (17-5, 2.44) vs Bud Norris (6-9, 3.78)

Broadcast Info
Monday, 8:o5, CSN
Tuesday, 8:05, PHL 17
Wednesday, 2:05, CSN
All Games on 1210 AM

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Lidge plunks Gomes with bases loaded; Phils lose

Rookie reliever Michael Schwimer pitches in his major league debut. He allowed a run on two hits and struck out four in three innings. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

It was a slider that just wouldn’t break.

Brad Lidge came inside on Jonny Gomes with the slider but the breaking ball hung, hitting Gomes. The only problem with that was the fact it was the bottom of the 10th and the bases were loaded. Ryan Zimmerman, Friday night’s hero with a walk-off grand slam, trotted home as the game’s winning run.

You can say the Phillies were cursed with the two most dramatic evils in getting walked-off. On one side, Ryan Madson gave up six runs in the 9th inning, capped by a grand slam by Zimmerman in the Nats 8-4 win Friday. Then there was Brad Lidge, greeted again with the bases loaded and losing the game for the Phils in the most anti-climactic way: a walk-off hit batter to lost 5-4.

The last time that’s happened for the Phils? Try 1998 when Mark Leiter hit Richard Hidalgo of the Houston Astros.

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After long wait, Schwimer’s name gets called

Michael Schwimmer pitches in relief for the Phils this past February in Spring Training. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Being in AAA Lehigh was like waiting in the bull pen for Michael Schwimmer. Time after time, the phone would ring and names like Michael Stutes, David Herndon, Drew Carpenter, Mike Zagurksi, Scott Mathieson and Juan Perez were asked for. But never Schwimer’s.

Of the six names mentioned, only two (Stutes and Herndon) are still with the Phillies – and Stutes is the only one who should remain on the roster heading into October.

But the phone finally rang for the 25-year-old Schwimer. And it took a little too long.

Schwimer has been dominant for the IronPigs, posting a 9-1 record, 1.88 ERA and a whopping 86 strike outs in 46 games and 67 innings pitched. Schwimer was named to the AAA All-Star team as well as arguably be Lehigh’s best player of the season.

With Phillies third baseman Placido Polanco being put on the DL last night, the door – and well the roster spot – opened for Schwimer. Now it will be Schwimer’s turn to join the Phillies bull pen and contribute, proving that this call up may be his first and last.

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The Pence Effect: Howard has big day with Pence behind him

Newly acquired Hunter Pence greets Ryan Howard after his solo home run in the 1st. Pence went 1-for-5 in his Phillies debut. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

The one thing people thought Hunter Pence was going to bring to the Phils line up was protection for Ryan Howard. Many felt Howard would see better pitchers, knowing he had a better hitter behind him team’s wouldn’t want to pitch around Howard to get to.

Whether it held true or not, for one night, Pence’s presence meant Howard could go off on opposing pitching. The Big Piece did just that, going 4-for-4 with three RBIs to help the Phils beat Pittsburgh, 7-4, Saturday night.

All Pence had to do was stand in the batter’s box and Howard knew he was going to get the pitches he will want to hit if he’s patient. It could have been that or it could have been the fact that the Pirates starter James McDonald isn’t that good. But the fact of the matter is that Howard got the job done tonight.

Howard’s big day started in the 2nd. The Phils slugger took McDonald deep to center, bouncing his 21st home run off the ivy to make it a 1-0 game. He then drove in his second run in the 3rd on an RBI double. His third RBI came in the 4th on a single.

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Miss Me?: Lee dominates former team

Cliff Lee was the big piece to the Rangers 2010 AL championship team that got away. His eight innings of shut out ball versus his former team was an example of that. (AP Photo/H. Rumph Jr)

If the Texas Rangers didn’t miss Cliff Lee before, they certainly do now.

The Phillies won their second straight game behind the arm of Lee and the bat of Ryan Howard as they shut out the Rangers, 2-0, Saturday night.

Lee was dealing against his former team, the same team that he led to the franchise’s first World Series berth a season again. He pitched eight innings of work, striking out 10 and scattering five hits and two walks. Ryan Madson pitched a one-hit 9th for his ninth save of the season.

Rangers starter Colby Lewis had another hard-luck loss. He pitched 6 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out six.

Howard snapped an 0-for-23 slump with a solo homer in the 2nd inning. He finished the night 2-for-4 with an RBI. John Mayberry drove in the Phillies other run in the 6th.

The Phils finally snapped their seven-game streak of six or less hits. It was tied for the longest streak since 1908. Read more of this post