Ben Revere says there are times when he tries to hit home runs.
This one brought a few hearty laughs from the media throng surrounding Revere’s locker after Thursday afternoon’s 1-0 victory over the Atlanta Braves at Citizens Bank Park. It was funny because Revere has warning-track power on a good day and in 1,455 career plate appearances in the big leagues, he has zero home runs.
He hasn’t even come close.
So with sluggers Dom Brown and Ryan Howard setting the table in the eighth inning, it was Revere who got the big hit to win it for the Phillies.
Facing Braves lefty starter Alex Wood with two outs and two on, Revere laced an 0-1 pitch up the middle for a single. Brown, who led off the inning with a 2-1 line-drive single to left, scored easily from second to plate the only run of the game (see Instant Replay).
That was all the offense needed by pitchers A.J. Burnett, Antonio Bastardo and Jonathan Papelbon, as the Phillies bounced back from a 1-0 defeat to the Braves the night before. The hit also helped the Phils (7-8) end the nine-game homestand with four wins and keep them three games behind the Braves in the NL East.
“It was big. It was big to end the homestand on a good note,” manager Ryne Sandberg said of Revere’s hit and the victory. “It was a little up and down through the whole homestand, but to end on a good note and take this last one is a big momentum game for us. Everybody stepped up.”
While Burnett turned in seven innings of three-hit ball in his first outing since being diagnosed with a hernia (which he called a 'blessing in disguise'), Revere went 3 for 4 to snap an 0-for-12 slide, including a four-game stretch in which he sat on the bench to rest sore ribs. Though Revere probably could have played through the discomfort, Tony Gwynn Jr. was a better option for Sandberg. With a three-strikeout game and two oh-fers between hits, Revere was not going to argue about his seat on the bench.
After all, Revere said, the time on the bench allowed him to iron out a few flaws in his swing as well as rest his ribs.
“I wanted this to be a 100 percent. I had one of those diving catches today, and if I had tried to force through it I probably would have ruptured something. You never know,” Revere said. “It kind of messed up my swing a little bit. Some of the pitches I was missing I usually put in play. I finally got a few days off and it helped a lot. It got my swing back together.”
Nor was Revere going to sweat it when he dug in at the plate with two outs in the eighth -- even though he was the Phillies’ last chance to win it. Brown led off the inning with a single and was bunted to second by catcher Wil Nieves. When Jayson Nix struck out for a third time for the second out, Sandberg tabbed Howard to pinch hit against the left-handed Wood.
Even though Howard didn’t start the game because of the lefty starter and was 3 for 17 with eight whiffs against lefties this season, Sandberg went with his slugger. Six pitches later, Howard was strolling to first base with a walk to bring Revere to the plate.
“Howard’s our cleanup hitter [against] right-handed or left-handed pitchers, and he’s an RBI guy. That’s what he does,” Sandberg explained. “It was a big at-bat that got the winning base hit up to home plate. So once again, he laid off pitches, he didn’t go out of the zone and force anything, he took his walk and then gets to the top of the order. Ben’s a guy that’s swinging a good bat and we need a base hit right there, so it’s a quality at-bat that really set up the whole thing was Howard’s walk.”
Importantly, Revere didn’t feel more pressure when Howard’s walk put him on the spot. Instead Revere went up there looking for the same pitch sequence Howard saw.
Perhaps Wood was thinking Revere wanted to take him deep?
“The whole time I was just thinking, ‘Get that run in,’” Revere said. “You know he got that walk and I had a feeling he was going to throw the same way he threw Howard, which was all breaking balls. That’s the way a good team goes. Each and every day you know it’s going to be a different guy.”
After the hit, Papelbon came in to pitch a perfect ninth for his fourth straight save (and then discussed his purported velocity problems).
From here the Phillies hit the road for a 10-game trip starting in Colorado on Friday night. Jonathan Pettibone (0-0, 1.80) pitches against Tyler Chatwood (0-0, 6.00) in the opener.