By Fred Guzman
For the first time since May 30, the two-time defending National League champion Philadelphia Phillies are back on top in the East.
And, wouldn’t you know it? Center fielder Shane Victorino again played a key role for the Phillies in last night’s 8-7 victory over the Florida Marlins.
Victorino had two hits in the game, including his 17th homer of the season – a solo shot in the fifth inning. In the eighth, he got on base with a two-out single, stole second for his 30th theft of the season and then scored the go-ahead run on Placido Polanco’s clutch single.
The victory enabled the Phillies to take a half-game lead over the Atlanta Braves, who suffered a 5-0 loss to the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates.
In also capped a sensational recent run by the injury-riddled Phillies, who have had each of its starters on the field spend some time on the 15-day disabled list. Since trailing the Braves by seven games on July 22, the Phillies have won 32 of 46 games.
Closer to home, Na Koa Ikaika Maui opened the best-of-five South Division playoff series last night with a 4-1 win over Orange County at Iron Maehara Stadium.
Right-hander Wes Ethridge went the distance for the first time this season. Ethridge, who entered the game with a 10-0 record and a 1.76 ERA, lived up to his gaudy statistics by allowing five hits and one unearned run while striking out six and walking three.
He received a huge early boost from Jermy Acey, who slugged a towering two-run shot over a billboard sign in left-center in the first inning.
Game 2 of the Golden Baseball League series is set for a 6:35 start tonight. After a travel day, the series resumes on Friday in Orange County.