Charlie Manuel could have benched Pat Burrell after he struck out five times in five at-bats against the Braves Tuesday.
Hey, nobody would have blamed him. But Manuel had Burrell hit fifth Wednesday, immediately behind Ryan Howard. Burrell hit there last night, too.
“I’m pretty straight up and honest about things," Manuel said. "When (Jayson) Werth starts playing good I put him in the lineup and give him a chance to play every day. I haven’t seen anybody here in four years that can take Burrell’s spot and produce that many runs.”
His faith in Burrell paid off.
Burrell hit a two-run home run to left field in the sixth inning to break a tie in a 4-3 victory. It allowed the Phillies to keep their half-game lead over the Mets in the NL East with nine games to play. It also extended the Phillies' winning streak to a season-high seven games. They haven't won this many in a row since they won nine-straight games April 30 - May 5, 2006.
“It’s that time of year,” Burrell said. “As a player, this is the time of year you really take pride in. I do.”
Burrell entered last night hitting .175 (24 for 137) with four home runs and 12 RBIs in 38 games since Aug. 5. Only Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Andy LaRoche had hit worse with a .161 average. But Burrell is hitting .300 (6 for 20) with two home runs and four RBIs in his last five games, which includes his five strikeouts Tuesday.
If Burrell can break out of his funk, it could bode well for the Phillies. Entering last night Ryan Howard (.393), Jimmy Rollins (.355), Shane Victorino (.333) and Werth (.291) have been hitting well in September.
Here are a few tidbits from the game: The Phillies swept the nine-game season series at Turner Field. The nine-game winning streak against the Braves in Atlanta is the longest by any team since the franchise moved to Atlanta in 1966. ... Elias Sports Bureau reports that the franchise hasn't been swept in a season series of at least nine games at home since the Chicago Cubs went 11-0 against the Boston Doves in Boston in 1909. ... The Phillies are 73-0 when leading after eight innings. ... The Phillies are 13-2 against the Braves this season. The 13 wins sets a single-season franchise record against Atlanta. .. Howard did not strikeout once in the series. It's the first series he hasn't struck out in this season. Howard entered the night with 190 strikeouts. Arizona's Mark Reynolds had 191 to lead baseball.
In the Phillies Notebook: Dan Uggla would love to knock the Phillies out of the playoffs.