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Carlos Ruiz has morphed into a mini-Howard to carry the Phillies.
Long a fan favorite in Philadelphia, the catcher had his sixth career four-hit game and drove in three runs against the Cubs on Thursday. Known as Chooch, Ruiz is having a May to remember, batting .429 with 17 RBIs in 15 games.
"He's the best catcher in the National League and we've said that for years," Halladay said. "Unfortunately, you've got to hit to get that notoriety and he's doing that now. Hopefully, people take notice."
Hard not to notice, especially without the stars in the lineup to overshadow him.
Just a little more than week ago, Manuel was so frustrated with Philadelphia's erratic start that he called a team meeting and gave his players an earful after they were swept in a three-game series by the Mets that dropped them four games under .500.
"I know we can get better, that we can play better baseball," Manuel said.
They went out and fattened their record against some of the weakest teams in the league. They took two of three from San Diego, then swept brief two-game series against the Houston Astros and Cubs to enter the Red Sox series on a hot streak.
The Red Sox are 18-20 and 6 1/2 games behind first-place Baltimore in the AL East. They'll see a familiar face in closer in Jonathan Papelbon, who signed a $50 million, four-year contract with the Phillies in November, the richest deal ever for a reliever. He was a four-time All-Star in seven seasons with the Red Sox, and helped them win the 2007 World Series title.
Papelbon has 10 saves and would love to add to that total this weekend.
Last place or not in May, the Phillies still believe he'll be adding to that total in October.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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