Phillies wake up with four-run sixth


PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Jose Mesa proved he should be the
Philadelphia Phillies closer.

Mesa got his first save since July 30, and Jim Thome and Mike
Lieberthal hit back-to-back homers to spark a four-run sixth inning
as the Phillies won their fourth straight on Saturday, 5-4 over the
St. Louis Cardinals.

Albert Pujols extended his hitting streak to 30 games with a
seventh-inning single, the longest by a St. Louis Cardinals player
since Stan Musial hit in 30 straight in 1950. Pujols finished
1-for-2 with three walks.

Jim Edmonds tripled off the head of center fielder Marlon Byrd
in the third inning and former Phillies third baseman Scott Rolen
homered for the Cardinals, who have lost three of four.

Mesa worked the ninth innings for his 22nd save in 25
opportunities -- his first since manager Larry Bowa replaced him as
the closer on Aug. 3.

Bowa took the closer role away from Mesa while he worked on his
mechanics with pitching coach Joe Kerrigan over the last 10 days.

"(His mechanics) were still a little bit slow out there, but he
definitely earned the save," Bowa said. "That's a very good
hitting team and he didn't face the 7-8-9 hitters. He got the heart
of the order and got the job done."

After Pujols walked to start the ninth, Mesa got Tino Martinez
to pop out to first base before striking out Rolen and Bo Hart to
end the game.

Although Mesa wouldn't talk to the media after the game, he had
plenty of supporters.

"(Mesa's) got the best stuff of anybody in the bullpen, he's
our best guy out there," said Dan Plesac, who earned a save on
Friday night. "Batters go into slumps. Hitters go into slumps. It
just gets magnified when things go wrong in the ninth inning.
There's no lifeguard out there when you're a closer."

Thome, who was also a teammate of Mesa's in Cleveland, added:
"He has been one of the best closers in the game. We believe in
him. We want him out there."

After Lieberthal hit an RBI single in the first, the Phillies
couldn't put together anything against rookie Danny Haren (3-4),
who retired 13 straight before the sixth inning.

"(Haren) was making really good pitches but we were able to
make some adjustments as the game went along," Thome said.

Byrd led off the sixth with a double and moved to third on
Placido Polanco's sacrifice. Bobby Abreu doubled off the left-field
wall to score Byrd and cut the deficit to 3-2.

Thome followed with a two-run homer to right-center -- his 32nd
of the year, then Lieberthal hit his seventh home run to left for a
5-3 lead.

"(Haren) was pitching one of the best games since he's been
here and, all of sudden, boom, boom," Cardinals manager Tony
LaRussa said.

Brett Myers (12-7) allowed four runs on six hits over 6 1-3
innings. He walked five and struck out six.

St. Louis chased Myers in the seventh when Edmonds walked and
Pujols singled. Plesac relieved and struck out Martinez.

Reliever Mike Williams hit Rolen to load the bases and walked
Orlando Palmeiro to pull the Cardinals within 5-4. Williams got out
of the jam when second baseman Chase Utley made a nice play up the
middle and got a force at second for the final out.

Rolen was booed loudly by Philadelphia fans for the second night
in a row. Once a fan favorite, Phillies fans turned on Rolen when
he rejected a lucrative contract extension from Philadelphia in
2001 and forced a trade last year.

Rolen gave the Cardinals a 2-1 lead in the fourth with his 24th
homer of the season. The solo shot hit off the facing of the upper
deck in left field.

Edgar Renteria doubled home Rolen in the fifth, stretching the
lead to 3-1. The Phillies prevented further damage in the inning
when shortstop Jimmy Rollins threw out Renteria at the plate trying
to score on a grounder by Mike Matheny.

St. Louis tied it 1-all in the third on Edmonds' odd triple.

Byrd appeared to have a shot at making the catch at the fence
but when he leaped the ball completely missed his glove and caromed
off his head.

Edmonds jogged to first base before picking up the pace after
the ball caromed away from Byrd.

Haren gave up five runs on seven hits in six innings. He walked
one and struck out five.

Game notes
Pujols became the 38th player in history with a 30-game
hitting streak. ... Thome has four homers in his last five games.
... Plesac appeared in his 1,050th career game, tying him with Kent
Tekulve for fourth place on the all-time list. ... Rolen is hitting
.423 (11-for-26) against Philadelphia in his career. ... The
Phillies have hit four back-to-back home runs this season. ...
Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell changed the Vet Coundown number.
There are 17 regular-season games left at Veterans Stadium.<