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David Murphy, Daily News Staff Writer
Greg Dobbs said it felt like hitting a home run. And, when you really think about it, his racing stab of a line drive by Chris Young in the second inning might have been worth more than a dinger. After all, the Padres had the bases loaded and with two outs all three runners were going on contact, leading to the likelihood that a double would have scored three runs. Dobbs broke down his catch after the game: Off the bat, he knew that the ball had been well hit, and that it had a good chance of going over his head. In that situation, outfielders are taught to sprint to a spot, taking their first five or six sprinted steps with their head down in order to keep their momentum going in the right direction. Turn your head too early, and your pace is slowed, and the likelihood of the ball getting by you increases. Dobbs said he watched the play several times on video during the game, and he was satisfied with how he executed his jump and route. Playing for the first time in right field since spring training, it was impressive how he was able to get himself into a position to make a play. At the last instant, he was forced to pick between diving or reaching up with his arm. He felt like he could do the latter, and he did.
The moment the ball hit the pocket?
"A great feeling," Dobbs said.
So too was the feeling when he arrived at the dugout after trotting in from right field. Lefthander J.A. Happ, who went on to pitch seven scoreless innings, greeted him at the top step with a high five and a smack on the rump. In the clubhouse after the game, Happ walked by Dobbs with a smile on his face and said, "What a catch."
"Dobber turned the game around right there," Happ said earlier.
An impressive performance by the Phillies fans who made the trek here to San Diego. I counted at least three E-A-G-L-E-S chants during the series. But the loudest cheers were reserved for Raul Ibanez, and for lefthander J.C. Romero, who allowed one unearned run in 1 1/3 innings in his first appearance since being activated from his suspension earlier Wednesday. The fans behind the visitor's dugout gave him a standing ovation as he left the field with one out in the ninth. Romero responded by tipping his cap.
"Just showing them how I appreciated the support they gave me throughout the whole 50-game thing," Romero said. "They embraced me today, and that was nice."
Don't look now, but Phillies starters have recorded a victory in each of these six straight wins. Since a win over Washington on May 18th when Chan Ho Park allowed five runs in 1 1/3 innings and lost his spot in the rotation, Phillies starters have an ERA just over 4.00, which is nearly two and a half runs better than the 6.35 ERA they posted in the first 36 games of the season.
I'm very interested to see how this team takes its momentum into this four-game series at Dodgers Stadium. They got swept there last season. Even if they get swept this time around, they'll still be seven games over .500. Winning the series, conversely, would give them a remarkable opportunity to put some serious distance between themselves and the Mets next week at Citi Field.
No news to report on Shane Victorino. He told Charlie Manuel during the game that he was having a problem with his hip and lower back. Manuel said the condition has been on the injury report that the Phillies training staff gives him each day. He said he does not know how serious it is. We should find out more tomorrow in L.A.