MIAMI (AP) -- Through the final seven innings, the Philadelphia
Phillies' bullpen successfully nursed a one-run lead. Shane Victorino scored from second base on an infield single and chased
down a 420-foot fly for the final out. With their season on the
brink, the Phils came through with a clutch win.
It wasn't enough.
Hanley Ramirez went 1-for-5 in Florida's loss to Philadelphia but that hit gave him 43 hits for the month, the most for any player in the major leagues. He's the first rookie in 26 years to lead the majors in hits in September. The last to do it was Dave Stapleton of the Red Sox in September 1980.
Philadelphia averted elimination from the NL wild-card race for
an hour by beating the Florida Marlins 4-3. But subsequent
victories by the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres quashed
the Phils' hopes of reaching the postseason for the first time
since 1993.The results left Philadelphia trailing the Dodgers and Padres by
two games with one to play."We just didn't win enough," manager Charlie Manuel said.The Phils drew small consolation from winning Saturday, when the
offense overcame an early deficit and the bullpen shut out Florida
over the final 7 1/3 innings.Tom Gordon pitched around a one-out double in the ninth,
retiring Dan Uggla on a fly that Victorino caught in deep center
field for the final out.But for the second year in a row, the Phils (85-76) fell
torturously shy of a wild-card berth. They finished one game behind
Houston in the race last year."We've got to get better," Manuel said. "We've got to get to
a place where we can consistently win 93 to 100 games. That will
put us in a position to get something -- more than likely we'll
compete for our division, and the wild card will be automatic."Despite a second-half surge, the Phillies lost control of their
destiny when they dropped three of four games to Houston and
Washington at the start of the week."It's frustrating, but what can you do?" Victorino said.The Phils failed to make the playoff despite 45 wins since the
All-Star break, most in the NL. They were 40-47 at the break."Most teams that played as well as we played the second half
have clinched," Gordon said. "It's tough."The latest win was characteristic of the way Philadelphia
performed in the past 2½ months.Miguel Cabrera and Josh Willingham hit back-to-back homers in
the first inning for Florida, but Ryan Howard's RBI single put the
Phillies ahead in the third, and the bullpen did the rest.Because he faced a must-win situation, Manuel pulled starter
Randy Wolf after only 1 2/3 innings. Wolf gave up five hits and
departed with the score 3-all."During the season, we probably would have stayed with him a
little longer," Manuel said. "We had to stop them right there."Ryan Madson (11-9) pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings. Gordon
earned his 34th save in 39 chances.Scott Olsen (12-10) allowed four runs in six innings and lost to
the Phils for the third time this year."They have a balanced lineup -- speed at the top, power in the
middle, and just about everybody's hitting .300 or better," Olsen
said. "It's hard to get those guys out."The young Marlins were in the wild-card chase themselves less
than two weeks ago, but they've lost 13 of their past 17 games.
Florida hasn't won a series since Anibal Sanchez pitched a
no-hitter Sept. 6 against Arizona.If not for a 5-13 record against Philadelphia -- including losses
the past two days -- the Marlins would be above .500."It's not about knocking a team out of the playoffs," Marlins
manager Joe Girardi said. "It's about proving to teams that you
can beat them, and we haven't done that against the Phillies."Victorino's hustle put the Phils ahead for good. He legged out a
double to start the third, then came home on a one-out single to
short right field by Howard.Second baseman Uggla fielded the ball several steps behind the
dirt, but his throw was wide to Olsen covering first, and Victorino
came home without a play.Howard also was hit by a pitch, walked twice and struck out to
remain at 58 home runs. He'll get one final shot at the 60
milestone Sunday, but his playoff debut will have to wait."You lay it all out there," he said with a shrug. "And
whatever happens, happens."
The start of the game was delayed 28 minutes by rain. ...
Cabrera, Willingham and Uggla are tied for the Florida lead in
homers with 26 apiece. ... Cabrera improved to 10-for-19 lifetime
(.526) against Wolf. ... Phils C Mike Lieberthal left the game in
the fourth inning with a right groin strain.