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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Phillies close gap in NL East          Send a link to a friend

[July 31, 2007]  CHICAGO (AP) -- The Philadelphia Phillies won their fourth straight game and strengthened their pitching staff, and it was still hard for Aaron Rowand to remain upbeat.

Rowand hit a three-run homer, Cole Hamels pitched eight impressive innings and the Phillies beat Ted Lilly and the Chicago Cubs 4-1 on Monday night.

But Shane Victorino and Michael Bourn departed with injuries for Philadelphia, which already has All-Star Chase Utley and five others on the disabled list.

"You ask yourself, 'When is it going to end?'" Rowand said. "We just have to keep our fingers crossed and pray that neither of them are out for an extended period of time. That puts a serious dent in what we're trying to accomplish when you lose two guys like that."

The Phillies' game against the Cubs was the only one in the National League on Monday night, the eve of the non-waiver trade deadline.

Philadelphia, Atlanta and New York all were active as the deadline approached. The Phillies acquired right-hander Kyle Lohse from the Cincinnati Reds for a minor leaguer, and the Mets sent two prospects to the Twins for second baseman Luis Castillo.

The Braves appeared to be on the brink of acquiring switch-hitting slugger Mark Teixeira from Texas.

Newly acquired Tadahito Iguchi hit his first homer for the Phillies, who have won nine of 10 and trail the NL East-leading Mets by three games. Philadelphia was 8 1/2 games back of New York on June 2.

Victorino strained his right calf trying to beat out a double play in the fourth inning and will have a precautionary MRI exam on Tuesday. He said he felt it pop when he was running.

"I know Shane's hurting right now," Rowand said. "I think Shane's might be a little more serious than Mike's. Hopefully it's not as bad as it looks."

The Phillies had another scare in the fifth inning. Victorino's replacement, Bourn, stumbled over the bullpen mound chasing Alfonso Soriano's foul ball. After laying on the ground for several minutes with the team trainer checking on him, he got up and stayed in the game, but was taken out in the seventh with a left ankle sprain. Bourn will gets X-rays on Tuesday.

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Hamels (12-5) allowed one run and three hits, struck out eight and walked two. The 23-year-old left-hander retired nine of the first 10 batters he faced, and also set down his last nine batters.

"That's a big outing for us and he was tremendous," manager Charlie Manuel said.

Brett Myers pitched a perfect ninth to complete the three-hitter and earn his seventh save.

Ryan Theriot homered in the sixth inning for the Cubs, who are one game behind the Brewers in the NL Central.

"It's still early. We have a lot of games left. It doesn't matter who is in first place right now," Theriot said.

Lilly (11-5) had won six straight games and seven of his last eight, but was tagged for four runs and seven hits in five innings against the Phillies. It was his first loss since June 5.

Iguchi walked and Ryan Howard doubled ahead of Rowand's two-out homer in the third. It was his 15th of the season.

Iguchi, acquired from the White Sox on Friday, led off the fifth inning with a homer on an 0-1 pitch from Lilly. Iguchi is 4-for-10 with two RBIs with the Phillies.

Both Iguchi and Rowand played for the Chicago White Sox when they won the world championship in 2005.

"Yeah, I was noticing that -- Rowand and Iguchi," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "Yeah. I had that flash go through my mind through the course of the ballgame. Yeah. Give 'em credit. Rowand and Iguchi."

[Associated Press]

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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