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2011 Moments: #5 Howard propels Game 1 win

Ryan Howard watches his three-run homer leave the park in Game 1 of the NLDS on October 1, 2011. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)

It was Kyle Lohse among all people.

And it didn’t take until the 6th inning before someone on the Phillies realized this. That person was Ryan Howard and his three-run homer in the 6th inning seemingly set the tone for the NLDS at the moment.

Lohse had a perfect game going through the first 10 batters while holding a 3-0 lead created by a three-run homer off the bat of Lance Berkman. But Chase Utley’s double that ended the hitless streak and Shane Victorino’s RBI single in the 4th gave the Phillies offense some life while cutting the Cardinals lead to 3-1.

The 6th inning marked end of Lohse’s night. After a pair of singles by Jimmy Rollins and Hunter Pence, the Big Piece stepped into the box and gave the Phils the 4-3 lead in a huge way.

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2011 Phillies Moments: #6 An unlikely hero

(Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

Jaime Garcia had the Phillis foiled, and it seemed they couldn’t do a single thing against the Cardinals left-hander.

That is, until they pinch-hit Ben Francisco in the 7th inning in hopes of sparking something for the offense. Francisco provided more than just a spark; he single-handedly won the game for the Phillies.

Though the post season was short lived, it didn’t lack in the memory department. Francisco’s blast is one of two moments that made this Top 10 list.

Garcia was cruising through the first six innings, allowing only a trio of singles. If the Phils couldn’t strike, who knew how long Cole Hamels and their bull pen could contain the eventual World Champion Cardinals powerful line up.

Shane Victorino led off the inning with a single, only his team’s fourth hit of the evening. With John Mayberry at the plate, sure-gloved catcher Yadier Molina let a pitch get past him and Victorino scampered safely to second. Mayberry and Placido Polanco proceeded to record outs, causing fans to worry Victorino was going to be stranded at second with no outs.

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Lee out-muscles Mets

Phils starter Cliff Lee shut out the Mets through seven, striking out seven. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)

There wasn’t going to be any 9th-inning melt down this time for the Phils. Mainly because it’s pretty hard to blow a 10-run lead in a three-out span.

It also makes pitching a heck of a lot easier for Cliff Lee, who has made pitching look quite easy during the month of August. Lee shut down the Mets through seven as the Phillies won the series opener in a laugher, 10-0.

Lee pitched seven shutout innings, striking out seven while allowing three hits and three walks. Lee used up a lot of pitches in his seven innings (105) but he got the job done and that’s all that is reflected where it counts: the scoreboard. Lee’s strike out total on the season is now up to 191, a new career high.

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A Wednesday blog stroll

It’s hump day. And hump days suck.

The middle of the week is always boring and I have come to rescue the world (by world I mean my three dozen readers) from this dreaded concept called boredom.

So I went for a walk. Not a real walk, I’m too lazy for that. Instead, I decided to stroll around the Phillies Blogosphere to check out what other bloggers had to say with the Phillies’ recent success. I found some up beat articles, some interesting takes on the Phils place in history and even a concerned writer for Roy Halladay.

Whether you’re at work, at home, on the deck drinking a beer or in a meeting secretly looking at your phone, I put together a handful of other blog posts around the Phillies blogosphere you should check out:

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The Power of Lee: Cliff homers in Phils win

Phils pitcher Cliff Lee celebrates with Shane Victorino at the top of the dugout after hitting his second home run of the season in the 7th inning. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

“Cliff Lee has as many homers against left-handed pitching as Ryan Howard with 1” – Kevin Cooney

Put that into perspective. Lee hit his second home run of the season, the first Phillies pitcher to hit multiple home runs in a single season since Randy Wolf hit three in 2004, as the Phillies beat Los Angeles 2-1.

Lee took Dodgers left-handed starter Ted Lilly yard in the 7th to give the Phils a 2-0 lead and add insurance for Lee’s 12th win on the season. Lee finished his night on the hill with eight shut out innings, allowing only four hits and two walks while striking out 10. It was the eighth start of the season for Lee in which he reached the double-digit plateau in strike outs.

Lee’s night ended after eight because he threw 124 pitches. Ryan Madson allowed a run in the 9th but got the save. It was Madson’s 21st save in 22 chances this season. He’s the only reliever on the Phils current roster with a blown save.

Lee’s pitching opponent, Lilly, was fantastic as well, holding the Phillies to only two runs on six hits and a rare walk in eight innings of work. But an RBI double by Rollins and Lee’s solo homer did Lilly in as he was bested by Lee.

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Early bombs set tone for Braves

The Braves' Martin Prado leads off the bottom of the 1st with a solo homer to left. (AP Photo/Paul Abell)

Two poorly-placed, low-velocity sinkers were turned into back-to-back lead off homers for the Braves. That set the pace for Atlanta, who beat the Phillies on a night the Negro Leagues were honored, 5-3.

Martin Prado sent Blanton’s first sinker in the mid-80’s over the left field fence to give the Braves a quick 1-0 lead. The next batter, Nate McLouth, took Blanton to dead center for a 2-0 lead.

Blanton, whose velocity is still down after coming off an injury to his right elbow, lasted only five innings for the second straight time. His replacements, J.C. Romero and Kyle Kendrick, did not do so well.

Romero and Kendrick were roughed up for three runs in the 6th off three hits and two walks. That poor inning gave the Braves a 5-1 lead, which ultimately killed the Phillies hopes of getting back in the game.

They followed up Blanton’s two-run effort on five hits, a walk and five strike outs. Though his location was good, his velocity was down and that ultimately hurt him.

With these two starts, people are starting to worry whether or not Blanton is fully healthy. His fastball topped out at 88 MPH, about 2-3 down from his usual average. Read more of this post

Oswalt, pen blank Padres

Roy Oswalt had a no-no going through the first 4 2/3 inning. But he also had a high pitch count running.

But despite the battling Padres, they could barely solve the right-hander, let alone score as he and the bull pen combined for a 3-0 shut out win to open the series against San Diego.

Right fielder Ben Francisco makes a catch in the fifth. He homered in the win, his third of the season. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

It was the first time the Phillies won the series opener in five series.

Oswalt allowed only one hit and two walks in his six innings of work, striking out seven. His fastball was full of life despite San Diego hitters fouling off a lot of his pitches.

One of the problems the Phils had was leaving runners on. They went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position and left 20 on in this game, six from Ryan Howard.

Howard’s day was especially rough, going 0-for-5 with four strike outs.

But despite the offensive struggles, Mat Latos had the most frustrating game of the night. Despite sitting down Howard three times, Latos couldn’t get any short at-bats, being lifted after 107 pitches in 4 1/3 innings of work. He allowed three runs, two off solo homers, on four hits and five walks while striking out seven.

The Phils got a pair of solo home runs in the second inning. Ben Francisco hit a ball to dead center. Center fielder Cameron Maybin appeared to have a play on the ball but crashed back-first into the wall as the ball just made it over to give the Phils a 1-o lead.

Two batters later, catch Brian Schneider ripped a shot deep to right center to make it a 2-0 game.

The Phils added one more on a sacrifice fly, fielding error by Padres outfielder Chris Denorfia.

Placido Polanco had a two-hit game for the Phils. Francisco drove in a pair of runs as well.

The pitching overall was tremendous. After Oswalt’s six, David Herndon and Antonio Bastardo combined for the next two innings. Jose Contreras then earned his fifth save of the season in a rough ninth.

HR: Francisco (3), Schneider (2).

WP: Oswalt (3-0). LP: Latos (0-3). S: Contreras (5).