PHILADELPHIA -- Charlie Manuel has a welcome lineup dilemma.
Kyle Kendrick pitched eight impressive innings, Ryan Howard hit a grand slam and had six RBIs, and the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 12-2 on Monday night.Jayson Werth had a three-run homer for the NL East-leading Phillies, who have won four straight and 12 of 15. The two-time defending NL champions are 24-13 despite a slew of injuries.Pitching in a steady rain, Kendrick (2-1) allowed two runs and five hits, striking out four.The Phillies got one of their injured stars back when Jimmy Rollins returned to the lineup after missing 29 games with a calf injury. The three-time All-Star shortstop and 2007 NL MVP had two hits and an RBI.Rollins batted third instead of his usual leadoff spot because Chase Utley, the regular No. 3 hitter, was sent home with flulike symptoms. Shane Victorino has filled in nicely for Rollins in the leadoff spot. Victorino leads the team with 32 RBIs and is tied with Werth for first with eight homers.So what's Manuel going to do with Rollins when Utley comes back?"We'll see," Manuel said. "Victorino can hit 5 through 7, or 1 or 2."Manuel could probably pick his lineup out of a hat and the Phillies would still produce. Their offense leads the NL in batting average (.280) and runs (212)."I thought I would hit seventh. Hide me behind the curtain and let me poke my head out," Rollins said. "Until I get my stroke back, leave him up there. He's doing a great job."Pirates starter Charlie Morton (1-7) gave up six runs and six hits in four innings. Delwyn Young hit his first career leadoff homer for Pittsburgh, which has lost six of eight. The Pirates have dropped six in a row and 11 of 12 in Philadelphia."He threw the ball much better, but you've got to get ahead of them," Pirates manager John Russell said of Morton. "His offspeed was missing and he had to come in with his fastball and it hurt him."Kendrick had just his third quality start in eight outings, lowering his ERA to 5.24. The right-hander had a sharp sinker, and got 12 outs on grounders."I made some mistakes, but they missed them," Kendrick said. "I felt the same but my results were better."Young hit Kendrick's fourth pitch into the right-field seats for a 1-0 lead, but the Phillies manufactured a run in the bottom half. Victorino singled leading off, stole second, advanced to third on a groundout and scored on Rollins' RBI groundout.Howard's two-out, two-run single in the third put the Phillies ahead 3-1 after Rollins popped out with the bases loaded. Howard beat the shift with a hard grounder through the vacated shortstop hole.Werth followed with an opposite-field shot to right to make it 6-1. He's hit three-run homers in three of the last five home games, dating to the previous homestand.Werth added an RBI double in the seventh. He leads the majors with 20 two-baggers. Howard connected off Jack Taschner in the eighth. It was his ninth career slam, extending his franchise record.
To make room on the roster for Rollins, infielder Wilson Valdez was designated for assignment. Valdez hit .231 (12 for 52) for the Phillies. He filled in nicely after backup shortstop Juan Castro got hurt. ... Pirates INF Akinori Iwamura grounded out as a pinch hitter in the fifth. He's hitless in his last 27 at-bats. ... Phillies LHP J.A. Happ threw 20 pitches in a bullpen session. He's been sidelined with a left forearm strain. ... A crowd of 45,371 was the 59th straight sellout at Citizens Bank Park.