Pete Mackanin walked to the mound Saturday night with two outs in the eighth inning of a 4-3 win over Cleveland. The manager took the ball from Elvis Araujo as the bullpen roulette wheel spun again. A new reliever - righthander Colton Murray - jogged through the opened bullpen door in center field at Citizens Bank Park.
Another inning ended without a run crossing the plate as the manager's spins continued to come up winners. The Phillies bullpen has not allowed a run in five games, a streak that spans 16 innings. The unit - which was maligned when the season began - pieced together another lockdown performance to seal the team's eighth win in nine games.
The Phillies opened the season with four straight losses. They surged to end the season's first month with a 14-10 record. It is the first time they are four games above .500 since the end of the 2011 season.
Andrew Bailey, Araujo, Murray, and Jeanmar Gomez combined for three scoreless innings. It was not easy, but it was enough.
Murray's lone out was a 386-foot fly ball to end the eighth. A foot farther and it would have been a game-tying homer. Gomez earned his eighth save when rightfielder Peter Bourjos plucked the final out with a leaping catch in right. The pitcher initially thought Bourjos had an easy play. Gomez then thought he was doomed when Bourjos had to jump.
"I just said thanks to God for Bourjos," Gomez said. "He hit a really good line drive, but thanks to Bourjos for being there to make a really nice play."
Freddy Galvis, who hit a two-run homer in the first inning, drove in the winning run in the seventh inning with a bloop single to right field. The hit dropped just inside the foul line, scoring David Lough from second.
Galvis said he would not have believes the Phillies would finish April like this if you had asked him before spring training. Everything changed in Clearwater, he said.
"We were struggling in the beginning of the season, but we knew we had a good team," Galvis said. "We just had to play good baseball and see what happened."
Galvis' RBI took the offense off the hook for its failure to score two innings earlier after having runners reach first and third with no outs. The rally was crushed when the team made two outs on the base paths.
Bourjos was caught in a rundown between third and home. Odubel Herrera ended the inning when he was tagged out at home as he tried to advance on a passed ball. The Phillies have made 12 outs this season on the bases. It is the second-highest mark in the National League.
Jerad Eickhoff allowed three runs on six hits. He was able to pitch a quick sixth inning after allowing two runs in the fifth. The extra inning lightened the load for the bullpen, which has been stretched to the limit. And the bullpen made sure the starter's effort was not wasted.
Bailey - the South Jersey native - pitched for the second consecutive day to earn his first win with the Phillies. He retired the side in order, and Mackanin said the righthander could soon be used in higher-leverage situations.
Gomez entered in the ninth, for the first time with his own entrance music humming over the ballpark's speakers. Instead of a powerful rock song, Gomez chose a Spanish Christian ballad backed by soft guitars. The scoreboard showed fans swaying to Julissa's "El Gran Yo Soy." It is not a song to sweep a crowd into a frenzy, but the pitcher said it is the type of music he prefers. He dedicates his craft to Jesus.
And the tune - just like the bullpen - did the job.