Ken Giles is 1-for-1 as Phillies' official closer

TORONTO - After Ryan Howard led off the fifth inning with a single and Cody Asche, Darin Ruf and Andres Blanco followed with three consecutive doubles, newly crowned closer Ken Giles readied himself in the bullpen.

He couldn't necessarily see the future, but he knew what was going on. The Phillies had rallied from a two-run deficit to claim the lead.

"Once we scored those three runs, I was like, 'That's all that we're getting, and I need to mentally prepare for myself to be ready to go,' " Giles said afterward. "But it was hard to mentally prepare myself when I was already as nervous as I was."

Giles shook the butterflies away from his field of vision when he took the mound four innings later and converted his first save of the season, too.

Less than two hours after the trade that sent closer Jonathan Papelbon to Washington became official, Giles took the imaginary baton from his mentor last night in Toronto and nailed down the Phillies' 3-2 win.

The Phillies have won five straight and nine of 10 games since the All-Star break.

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"The first one is way the hardest," Giles said. "And even though I did it last year, I was way more nervous in this one because I was the guy, I needed to get three outs to conserve that win."

Giles gave up a single to Edwin Encarnacion to begin the ninth inning, but then recorded three consecutive outs - although the first two were titanic fly balls that found a safe landing spot in teammates' gloves in the Rogers Centre's generous outfield.

Giles' first two pitches of the inning registered at 99 mph, and he found 101 and 100 later in the at-bat against Encarnacion. Perhaps the nerves in the bullpen gave way to adrenaline on the mound.

Said Phillies manager Pete Mackanin: "I was talking to [pitching coach Bob] McClure and he said, 'The ball is going to find Giles tonight - the baseball gods work that way.' You hate losing a guy like [Papelbon], but we feel Giles is capable of taking over."

Giles was not lacking for confidence following his first save as the team's full-time closer.

"I think I'm going to be a great closer," he said.

But he spent most of his time explaining why he felt that way by heaping praise on his predecessor.

"I can't thank him enough for guiding me through the way of the closer," Giles said. "Not just for me and the bullpen guys, but all the younger guys, he set the tone: Hey, you have to have a win mentality around here, to get better and challenge each other, and I think everyone took that to heart. I think that's showing now."

Like Giles, rookie starting pitcher Adam Morgan was up against a formidable challenge in the Blue Jays. Toronto entered the night with a major league-best 528 runs - 72 more than the next-closest team.

Toronto has scored seven or more runs in 34 of its 101 games and has 336 extra-base hits, more than any other team in baseball. Rookie Devon Travis hit Morgan's second pitch of the night over the leftfield fence.

"I learned pretty quick that anybody in that lineup can hit a home run," Morgan said. "Just from then on, I really focused on keeping the ball down and mixing speeds in and out, front and back."

Morgan allowed single runs in the first two innings but then threw four straight zeroes on the scoreboard en route to his second win of the season.


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