MILWAUKEE - Four nights earlier, in their second stop on their current, three-city road trip, the Phillies gave up a four-spot in the first inning and never recovered.
An offense that has scored three runs or fewer in 46 of their games this season went into flight instead of fight mode. They scored just two runs that night, and only two in each of the next two, too.
It was enough to bring the architect of the team, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., into a foul mood when the road trip locale changed to Milwaukee’s Miller Park. Amaro said roster changes would be coming soon to remedy his underperforming, poor offense.
After eking out a win on Monday, perhaps some of the Phillies got word of Amaro’s remarks earlier that day. On Tuesday, they broke out the lumber to save starter Kyle Kendrick from a dreadful night in Wisconsin.
Kendrick allowed five runs in the first inning - four coming on a Lyle Overbay grand slam - but the Phils stormed back with five of their own in the next half inning and rolled to a 9-7 victory on Tuesday night.
“Very encouraging,” Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said of the offense’s awakening. “What it took was some patience, some good at-bats, and of course, big hits with men on base. … It was good, coming back like that. ‘K.K’ needed that support. It was good his teammates picked him up.”
After losing nine of 10, the Phillies (39-51) have won two in a row. Tuesday night marked the first time they scored more than five runs in a game since June 24.
Chase Utley and Ben Revere each had two-run hits in the second inning to lead the early comeback, while Domonic Brown kept the offense churning with a home run in the third and a two-run single in the fifth.
Utley, who entered the series hitting .220 with four extra-base hits in 37 games since May 29, is 4-for-7 with a home run and five RBI in the last two games. Brown, one of the hitters Amaro could consider replacing soon, went 2-for-3 with a walk and three RBI; he is 8-for-23 (.348) in his last seven games.
“A little competition, that’s usually a good thing,” Sandberg said when asked whether Amaro’s words from a day earlier could motivate a guy such as Brown. “Tonight he had a good level swing on the home run, a line drive, it wasn’t a lofty ball. A line drive swing. And the ball he drove to left field, that had a good look about it.”
In a season that has seen nearly nightly episodes of the Phillies starting pitcher getting shortchanged by his offense, the script reversed on Tuesday. Kendrick had his worst start of an up-and-down, seasick first half of the season.
Kendrick allowed a career-high tying seven runs on a season-high 11 hits in 5 2/3 innings.
The five runs Kendrick allowed in the first brought his season total to 21 in the first innings of his 21 starts. He has a 10.50 ERA in the first inning this season, and a 3.34 ERA the rest of the time.
Instead of crawling into a hole as they did on Friday night in Pittsburgh when they were down four after the first, the Phils wasted little time erasing the deficit Kendrick created.
The top of the second inning began harmlessly with a pair of infield singles and a walk. But it quickly morphed into an inning that saw the Phillies send 10 batters to the plate; Revere’s two-run, ground-rule double and Utley’s two-run base hit highlighted the five-run inning that gave the team a 6-5 lead.
Kendrick settled down a bit, but kept Milwaukee in the game when Mark Reynolds ripped a two-run, pinch-hit home run in the sixth. It was the third home run Kendrick allowed Tuesday; Kendrick has allowed 14 home runs in 18 starts this season, but had given up just one in his last five entering the night.
But the offense had already provided Kendrick with some leeway before the sixth. After hitting his sixth home run of the season in the third, Brown followed a Ryan Howard walk and a double by Cody Asche with a two-run single in the fifth.
The Phillies finished the night with as many runs as they scored all weekend in a three-game series in Pittsburgh (nine) and nearly as many hits, too (11 over the weekend, 10 on Tuesday night).
“I think everybody fed off everybody else in the lineup,” Sandberg said. “Everyone chipped in. … A little bit of a contagious feeling maybe, everybody up and down the lineup with base hits, opportunities.”
The Phillies young bullpen also continued to be a bright spot: Justin De Fratus, Jake Diekman and Ken Giles combined for 2 1/3 shutout innings, before Jonathan Papelbon recorded his 21st save to clinch the win in the ninth.
Following Tuesday night’s game, the Phillies activated Jeff Manship from the disabled list and optioned fellow righthander B.J. Rosenberg to Triple A Lehigh Valley. Manship had been on the DL with a strained right quadriceps since June 1.
On Twitter: @ryanlawrence21