33 games in 31 days: Game #21: The Phils offense exploded late on their way to clinching their fifth straight NL Eastern Division pennant, as they crush the Cardinals, 9-2.

A late offensive surge, including a grand-slam home run by Raul Ibanez, leads the Phils to their fifth straight NL Eastern Division crown, as they crush the Cardinals, 9-2.

The Phils took the lead in the first as, with two men on, and with two men, Hunter Pence hits an RBI double, knocking in Jimmy Rollins, who had started the inning off with a single, then moved up to second base on Shane Victorino’s ground out, 4-3, giving the Phils a 1-0 lead, while sending Ryan Howard, who had just walked, on to third base.  The Phils then took a 2-0 lead in the fourth as, with the bases loaded, via a walk by Placido Polanco, who then reached second base on a force attempt missed catch error by shortstop Rafael Furcal on a Roy Oswalt grounder to pitcher Jake Westbrook, with Oswalt reaching first, and a single by Rollins, sending Polanco to third base, and Oswalt to second base, and with one man out, Victorino forced in a run with a walk, scoring Polanco, giving the Phils a 2-0 lead, while sending both runners up a base. The Phils added to their lead in the sixth as, with one man out, Victorino hits a solo home run, his seventeenth home run of the season, giving the Phils a 3-0 lead. The Cardinals got a run back in the eighth as, with two men on, and with two men out, Lance Berkman hits an RBI single, knocking in Jon Jay, who had earlier singled, then moved up to second base on Albert Pujols’ single, cutting the Phils’ lead down to 3-1, while Pujols, who had earlier singled, would stop at second base. The Cards then cut the Phils’ lead down to 3-2 as David Freese hits an RBI single, scoring Pujols, while sending Berkman up to second base. The Phils got a run back in their half of the eighth as, with runners on the corners, and with one man out, Victorino hits an RBI single, scoring Carlos Ruiz, who had earlier reached base on third baseman Daniel Descalsco’s fielding error, ending up on second base, then went to third on Rollins’ single, giving the Phils a 4-2 lead, which Rollins, who had just singled, would stop at second base. Three batters later, after Chase Utley had been hit by a pitch, loading up the bases, as both Rollins and Victorino moved up a base, and Howard had struck out, and now with two men out, Pence hits an RBI infield single, beating shortstop Furcal’s throw to first base, as Rollins scored, giving the Phils a 5-2 lead, while both runners would move up a base, leaving the bases still loaded. The Phils then busted the game wide open as Raul Ibanez hits a grand-slam home run, his nineteenth home run of the year, knocking in Victorino, Utley and Pence, giving the Phils a 9-2 lead. That would be the final score, as Ryan Madson pitched a scoreless ninth as he got Furcal to hit into a ground out, 4-3, for the final out, leading to the Phils clinching their fifth straight National League Eastern Division title.

Roy Oswalt (8-9, 3.66) got the win as he pitched seven shutout innings, giving up five hits while striking out seven. Michael Stutes collected his twelfth hold of the year as he pitched two-thirds of an inning, as he gave up two runs on four hits. Brad Lidge received his seventh hold of the year as he pitched a third of an inning, getting out the only man that he would face. Ryan Madson pitched a scoreless inning, giving up a hit. Jake Westbrook (12-9, 4.58) took the lost as he went three and one-third innings, giving up two runs, only one of which was earned, on five hits and five walks, as he struck out one. Arthur Rhodes pitched two-thirds of an inning, getting out both men that he would face. Mitchell Boggs pitched a scoreless inning, walking two batters. Kyle McClellan pitched an inning, giving up a run on a hit, as he struck out one. Fernando Salas pitched an inning plus one batter, giving up an unearned run, as he struck out a batter.  Marc Rzepczynski pitched two-thirds of an inning, giving up three runs on two hits, as he struck out one.  Octavio Dotel pitched a third of an inning, giving up two runs on two hits.

The Phils’ had ten hits in the game, with Jimmy Rollins leading the team with four hits, all singles. Shane Victorino (Single, Home Run, 3 RBIs) and Hunter Pence (Single, Double, 2 RBIs) then followed with two hits each. Raul Ibanez (Home Run, 4 RBIs) and Placido Polanco (Single) had the other two Phils’ hits.

The Phils (98-52, 1st East) will continue their series with the Cardinals (82-69, 2nd Central) with a night game later today. The game will be played at Citizens Bank Park, and will begin at 8:05 pm EDT. The Phils will send to the mound Cole Hamels (14-8, 2.71), who is coming off a lost against the Astros on September 13, as he went five innings, giving up four runs on nine hits and a walk, while striking out six, in the Phils’ 5-2 lost. He will be going out to help lower the magic number for home field advantage during the playoffs. The Cardinals will counter with Chris Carpenter (9-9, 3.80), who is coming off a no-decision against the Pirates on September 13, as he went seven innings, giving up four runs on ten hits and a walk, while striking out six, in the Cards’ 6-4 win. He will be trying to help his club stay in the wild card race. The Phils will now be going out to clinch home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

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