CHICAGO -- For Ryne Sandberg, this one couldn’t have gone any better.
The interim and possibly future manager of the Phillies returned to the stage that propelled him to the Hall of Fame on Friday afternoon and came away with a victory. Not just any victory. A rousing, come-from-behind triumph that left everyone in the cramped visiting clubhouse at Wrigley Field feeling pretty good.
Michael Young knocked in the go-ahead run with his fourth hit of the day, a two-out single in the ninth, to lift the Phillies to a 6-5 win (see Instant Replay). The Phils had trailed, 5-0, after five innings.
Sandberg played 1,091 of his 2,164 career games in Wrigley Field and his retired No. 23 hangs on the right-field foul pole.
He hit 164 of his 282 homers and had 1,259 of his 2,386 hits in the ballpark.
Now he has one managerial win in the old yard on the North Side of Chicago. And it came in his first game back to the ballpark since joining the Phillies' organization after he was bypassed for the Cubs’ manager’s job in 2010.
“It’s a good one to have, for sure,” Sandberg said. “Being down, 5-0, out of the chute. The guys battled back. Any time you rally like that is good.”
Sandberg paused as if he were taking in the whole day in a moment of reflection.
“Yeah,” he said. “It’s extra special.”
The players sensed it was extra special for Sandberg, who took over for Charlie Manuel on Aug. 16.
“We’re all happy for Ryno,” Young said. “He had an incredible career with a storied franchise. He’s a Cubs’ icon. We’re happy to get him the win.
“We know this means something to him. You could tell by the way he was looking around the field before the game. It’s a great moment for him.”
Sandberg received a nice ovation from the crowd when he took the lineup card to the umpires at home plate before the game. At home plate, he joked that maybe he should be the one explaining the ground rules to the umpires.
After the nice welcome-back-to-Chicago moment, Sandberg’s day took a turn for the worse in the early innings. Cubs right-hander Jeff Samardzija was dominant early while Phils’ starter Roy Halladay was … not the Roy Halladay of old.
Halladay allowed a solo homer in the first, four runs in the fourth and one in the fifth as the Phils trailed 5-0.
The comeback started in the top of the sixth when pinch-hitter Kevin Frandsen’s hard liner to center got by Junior Lake for a table-setting triple. Young and Jimmy Rollins singled and Chase Utley drove them in with a triple. Domonic Brown grounded out to score another run and make it a one-run game.
The Phils came all the way back the next inning with Frandsen tying the game at 5-5 on a solo homer off Samardzija.
Frandsen had entered the game in the throes of a second-half slump that saw him hitting just .118 (9 for 76) since the All-Star break. He entered the day hitless in his previous 16 pinch-hitting spots.
“Hits have been tough to come by,” Frandsen said. “In general, to be able to come up big like that for Ryno, especially coming back here, is a pretty good feeling.”
Frandsen and Young weren’t the only Phils to come through in the clutch. Relievers Zach Miner, Jake Diekman and B.J Rosenberg all got important outs leading to Jonathan Papelbon. Rightfielder John Mayberry Jr. gunned down the potential tie-breaking run at the plate to end the seventh.
About the only downer on the day was Halladay’s pitching. He gave up seven hits (one was a ball lost in the sun) and five runs in five innings. He walked two, hit two batters and struck out just one. His fastball was mostly in the 86-87 mph range, though he reached 88 mph a couple of times.
Halladay said some of his command issues were the result of sweat on his hands. It was 91 degrees and very humid at game time. The 36-year-old righthander had shoulder surgery on May 15. He is healthy, but still very much in the rehab process.
Sandberg acknowledged that it was difficult to see the current version of Halladay, but he believes the pitcher will improve.
“You see a gamer out there, a battler, a guy that is vocal when he’s not pitching, a leader with the guys,” Sandberg said. “With these outings that he continues to have, you just hope that his arm strength and velocity will pick up.
“He’s pitching at 88-89 (mph). He needs to get to 91-92. We’ll see how the rest of September goes and then he has the offseason. So I’d say he’s still in the early stages.”
The Phillies are 9-6 under Sandberg and five of the wins have come in the team’s last at-bat.
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