PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Philadelphia earned its first series sweep
of the season and is playing its best baseball of the year. Soon,
the Phillies may even be able to get their manager to check out the
"I'll start looking at the standings now if we can get out of
last place," Charlie Manuel said with a chuckle.The Phillies aren't there yet, but they're getting close.David Bell and Jimmy Rollins each drove in two runs, and Jon
Lieber won his second straight start to help the Phillies return to
.500 with a 6-5 victory over the slumping San Francisco Giants on
Thursday night.The Phillies (27-27) swept the three-game series and are at .500
for the first time since they were 8-8 on April 21. They haven't
had a winning record since April 18 and have been in last place
since April 22, but have won 12 of 18 and open a four-game series
at home against Arizona on Friday."It seems like we've got this thing clicking right now,"
Lieber said.The only bad news came about 135 miles south, where a late rally
and a win by Washington kept the Phillies in last place. Still,
Philadelphia is only 2½ games out of first in a tight NL East race."Every win we get, it keeps us on a roll," Bell said.Lieber (7-4) was 1-3 with an 8.85 ERA in his last four outings
after a 5-1 start. He wasted an early 4-0 lead, but survived two
home runs in a four-run third and gave up eight hits in six
innings."We're putting together a nice little streak here and we just
want to keep it going," Lieber said.The Phillies chased starter Brad Hennessey (2-2) in the third.
With the score tied 4-all, Bobby Abreu opened the inning with a
double, Pat Burrell singled and Jim Thome walked to load the bases.Jeff Fassero relieved Hennessey and got the first out before
Bell poked a two-run single to right for a 6-4 lead.Ryan Madson pitched a scoreless eighth and Billy Wagner finished
for his 12th save in 14 chances.The Giants have lost seven straight and head to New York for a
three-game series. The Giants hadn't lost more than six in a row
since an eight-game losing streak from May 12-20, 2002."I think it will turn around soon," Giants shortstop Omar
Vizquel said. "Right now, everything seems to be going against us.
We can't get a break."After the game, Hennessey was sent to Triple-A Fresno and
right-hander Al Levine was activated off the disabled list.A day after pounding out a season-high 19 hits to raise their
average to an NL-best .272, the Phillies' bats got going in the
second. Mike Lieberthal's two-out single drove in Chase Utley, who
had doubled. Lieber, who was 0-for-26 this season, followed with an
RBI double off the center-field wall above the 398-foot sign that
missed going out by inches."I knew I hit it pretty solid and I was just trying to run as
hard as I could," Lieber said.Rollins followed with his fifth homer of the year, a two-run
shot to left that made it 4-0. The Phillies had 11 hits.If running the bases tired Lieber, he didn't show it to start
the third, striking out the first two batters. Then the righty
allowed a walk, a double and J.T. Snow's three-run homer to left.On the very next pitch, Moises Alou hit a solo homer that tied
the game.Brian Dallimore and Jason Ellison hit consecutive doubles in the
seventh off Rheal Cormier to make it 6-5. With Ellison on third and
one out, pinch-hitter Lance Niekro flied out to shallow center.
Ellison challenged Kenny Lofton, who threw a dead-on one-hopper to
the plate and finished the double play."We wanted to force the issue, but the center fielder made a
perfect throw," manager Felipe Alou said.
Abreu grounded into his first double play of the year in
the first. He had gone 411 at-bats without one. He was named NL
Player of the Month for May thanks to his .396 average and 11 home
runs. ... Thome, in a season-long slump, walked three times. ...
Alou held a closed-door meeting with the pitching staff before the
game, telling them to relax. ... The Giants hit back-to-back homers
for the first time this season.