HOUSTON - SEPTEMBER 14: Pitcher Roy Halladay #34 of the Philadelphia Phillies goes to the rosin bag during a baseball game against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on September 14, 2011 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

Phillies Lose Series Finale, But Clinch Homefield In The Process

The Phillies will enjoy home-field advantage throughout the NL playoffs and the World Series if they get there

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Roy Halladay Goes For Win #19 Tonight Against Cardinals

(Sports Network) – Roy Halladay’s first shutout of 2011 officially punched the Phillies’ ticket to the postseason. In the hunt for a second straight Cy Young Award, the righty next has a chance at helping his club wrap up home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Meanwhile, a late surge has the Cardinals hoping they will get one more chance at the Phillies in the postseason following tonight’s conclusion of a four- game set.

Halladay posted his eighth complete game of the season on Wednesday in Houston, tossing a six-hitter in a 1-0 win. He also walked one and struck out seven, giving him a victory in seven of his last eight decisions. He has also allowed more than three earned runs just once in his past 15 starts to give him an 18-5 record and 2.34 earned run average on the season.

“He had good command, especially against the young hitters,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “He had a lot of off-speed stuff. He didn’t throw them a lot of fastballs they could get to.”

The 34-year-old is one back of the league lead for wins and his ERA is third- best in the NL. Halladay is the first Phillies hurler to win at least 18 games in back-to-back season since Steve Carlton in 1979-80 and he owns an 8-2 mark and 2.32 ERA in 14 home starts.

Halladay is 2-0 with a 1.23 ERA in three career starts versus the Cardinals, who hope to pull closer in the race for a playoff spot with a 10th victory in 12 games tonight.

St. Louis shut out Philadelphia, 5-0, to pull within 3 1/2 games of the Braves for the wild card position with 10 games to play. The Phillies’ magic number to clinch the league’s best record remained at two over the Brewers.

The winner of the NL pennant will have home-field advantage in the World Series regardless due to the league’s victory in the All-Star Game.

Albert Pujols hit a two-run homer off Cole Hamels in the first inning and Allen Craig added a pair of long balls in Sunday’s win. Chris Carpenter made the homers stand up with eight innings of scoreless ball.

“Albert got us off the zero quickly and got everybody excited,” said Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa. “(Then) Hamels got really, really tough, so it’s a good thing we got him before he got everything working.”

Hamels gave up four runs over seven innings for the Phillies, who have lost five of eight to the Cardinals this season. Chase Utley had three of Philly’s eight hits in the loss, which came one day after it secured the NL East crown in a club-record 150 games.

“Other than a couple of bad pitches, he was fine,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said of Hamels.

Philadelphia was without first baseman Ryan Howard on Sunday and he is expected to receive a cortisone shot in his injured ankle today and miss the next few games. He leads Philadelphia with 33 homers and 113 RBI.

Kyle Lohse won’t mind seeing the former MVP out of the lineup as he tries to win 14 games for the third time in his 11 major league seasons. Lohse has won five of his past six decisions but did not get one in his last outing in Pittsburgh on Monday.

The 32-year-old righty allowed three runs on eight hits over six innings of an eventual 6-5 loss, giving him a 13-8 record and 3.62 ERA on the season.

The one-time Phillie is 2-4 with a 3.91 ERA against his former team and lost to them on June 22 despite eight innings of work as he was on the wrong end of a 4-0 shutout.


Phillies Shut Out By Cardinals 5-0

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) – The St. Louis Cardinals are injecting more drama into the NL wild card race.

Behind a pair of Allen Craig home runs, a two-run blast by Albert Pujols and a stellar outing from Chris Carpenter, the Cardinals continued their late-season surge with a 5-0 win over the newly crowned five-time NL East champion Philadelphia Phillies.

Carpenter (10-9) scattered eight hits, walked one and struck out five over eight innings. Fernando Salas pitched the ninth to preserve the shutout.

St. Louis upped its September record to 11-5 while closing to within 3 1/2 games of the wild card-leading Atlanta Braves.

Cole Hamels (14-9) gave up four runs on seven hits in seven frames for Philadelphia, which has dropped two of three to the Cardinals in a four-game set at Citizens Bank Park that concludes Monday.

Recently, Hamels has had a propensity for giving up home runs, and that trend continued Sunday night.

The Cardinals took a 2-0 lead in the first inning when Pujols followed Craig’s one-out double with his NL-leading 36th home run of the season, a deep drive to left field.

Philadelphia had two on with one out in its half of the first, but Carpenter coaxed a double play grounder, one of three the Phillies hit into during the game.

In the sixth, Ryan Theriot led off with a double and Craig tried to bunt the runner over. But after two failed attempts, Craig smashed Hamels’ 0-2 offering over the wall in left-center.

Craig’s homer was the seventh surrendered by Hamels in four September starts.

The St. Louis outfielder clubbed his second home run of the game off Joe Blanton in the eighth.

Craig recorded the second multi-homer game of his career…The Phillies had won all eight of their previous four-game series this year…Hamels surpassed 200 innings pitched for the third time in his career…Chase Utley had three of Philadelphia’s eight hits…Justin De Fratus made his major league debut for the Phillies, tossing a scoreless ninth.


Phillies Face Cardinals In Search Of Homefield Advantage

(Sports Network) – Champagne was flowing inside the clubhouse of the Philadelphia Phillies last night after they secured a fifth straight NL East championship. The team gets back to work tonight with a goal of securing home- field advantage throughout the playoffs as they continue a four-game series with the Cardinals.

St. Louis has more pressing issues, as the Cardinals are trying to reach the playoffs likely as the wild card team, as Milwaukee has just about wrapped up the NL Central.

Back to the Phillies. They are now just three victories shy of the franchise record of 101 set in 1976 and 1977. Also, manager Charlie Manuel has 642 victories in a Phillies uniform, three shy of Gene Mauch’s record, set 1960-68.

A combination of two Phillies victories or Milwaukee losses will clinch home- field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Shane Victorino finished 2-for-3 with a home run and three RBI, and Raul Ibanez hit a grand slam to cap a six-run eighth inning in a 9-2 division- clinching 9-2 victory last night for the Phillies.

Roy Oswalt (8-9) notched his first scoreless outing since August 19 at Washington, scattering five hits and striking out seven over seven innings.

“Anybody could come out here tonight and have a good chance to win. With the starting staff we got, I just happened to have had the ball tonight,” said Oswalt about his role in the clincher. “I was able to throw a good game. They gave me a couple runs to work with.”

He departed with a seemingly safe 3-0 advantage.

In the eighth, Michael Stutes served up four straight two-out hits — the last two to Lance Berkman and David Freese which brought the Cards within 3-2. Brad Lidge came on to retire Allen Craig on a grounder to second.

In the home half, Victorino provided the Phils an insurance run with a one-out RBI single. Chase Utley was plunked to load the bases, and after Ryan Howard struck out, Hunter Pence beat out a grounder to shortstop to make it 5-2.

“We’ve had to battle through a lot of stuff to get here. Bringing Hunter over here, that extra energy to our ballclub, it’s a great feeling to once again be at this point,” said Howard of his new right-fielder, who arrived from Houston.

Jake Westbrook (12-9) lasted only 3 1/3 innings, charged in the loss with five hits and two runs — one earned — while walking five for the Cardinals.

St. Louis, which had its three-game win streak stopped, fell 6 1/2 games behind Milwaukee in the NL Central. The Brewers routed the Reds in Cincinnati later Saturday. The Cardinals also slipped 4 1/2 games behind Atlanta in the NL wild-card race, with the Braves taking a 1-0 decision over the Mets.

“It’s kind of the way we’ve been playing lately,” acknowledged Westbrook. “We’ve been playing pretty good baseball and been giving ourselves chances to win. We had our chance tonight, but it didn’t work out late.”

Chris Carpenter, who has just one loss (3-1) in his last eight outings, gets the ball tonight for the Cardinals. He’s 6-2 in 10 lifetime starts against the Phillies and has won each of his last four starts against them. He also has a 3-0 record with a 3.75 ERA in three career starts at Citizens Bank Park.

Cole Hamels has given up plenty of long balls of late, five of them over his last three starts, and the lefty is 1-2 over his previous five appearances. Hamels is 2-2 with a 3.00 ERA in eight games vs. St. Louis.

The Cardinals are 4-3 versus the Phillies this year.


Philadelphia Phillies Clinch Fifth Straight NL East Title

Good game, let's go pop the champagne! The Phillies routed the St Louis Cardinals tonight 9-2 as they cliched their fifth straight NL East title.

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