ST. LOUIS – David Buchanan allowed three solo home runs in his last outing and even though the wind was blowing out of Citizens Bank Park in a 7-4 victory over the Chicago Cubs, the Phillies righthander knew he had to make an adjustment.
So he worked in bullpen sessions on keeping the ball down and the results were encouraging.
In his sixth start for the Phillies, Buchanan was at his best, allowing just one run on four hits in 7 2/3 innings during Thursday’s 4-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium.
“I worked on being able to hit the spot down and away,” Buchanan said.
Manager Ryne Sandberg even allowed Buchanan some extra leeway.
Buchanan had pitched seven shutout innings, and it was assumed the bullpen would finish the final two frames with a 4-0 lead.
Yet Buchanan came out for the eighth and even though he allowed one run, he also pitched a career-high 7 2/3 innings.
“I think he rose to the occasion,” Sandberg said. “I think he has that kind of makeup and that kind of character.”
So even though he gave up the run, Sandberg felt that Buchanan earned the right to pitch into the eighth inning.
In the sixth inning, Buchanan showed some of the character Sandberg was talking about.
Pitcher Shelby Miller led off the sixth with a double. Yet Buchanan got Matt Carpenter to line out to center, Jon Jay to ground out to first and Matt Holliday to fly out to left.
That was the top of the Cardinals order.
“After that leadoff double, I told myself that run doesn’t matter, just focus on the hitters and get out of the inning,” Buchanan said. “Fortunately, I had some plays made behind me and got out of the inning.”
Pitchers learn best about themselves when they can get out of jams such as that, especially against the formidable part of the Cardinals lineup.
"I thought he did great,” said Ryan Howard, who had a home run and three RBIs, giving him 25 RBIs in his last 23 games. “He executed his game plan, hit his spots, got out of a couple situations and avoided a lot of situations. Anytime you can do that it's going to be a good night."
Buchanan doesn’t have the type of stuff that will overpower hitters, so he has to hit spots, change speeds and as he emphasized, keep the ball down.
“Overall it was a good game,” Buchanan said. “It was fun.”
In winning four in a row and eight of 10, the Phillies are gaining confidence. Most of all, they are also getting contributions from a variety of sources.
This night, Buchanan picked an opportune time to have his best game, while doing it against a quality opponent in front of a sellout crowd of 42,106.
“He seems to be showing improvement,” Sandberg said. “He seems to be adjusting as he’s gone along and it looks like he’s growing out there. He’s coming along real good.”