Reds series helped start Phillies comeback

The Phillies and Reds met seven times during the regular season, with the Phillies winning five of those games, including a four-game sweep at Citizens Bank Park.

The biggest of the two series against Cincinnati was definitely the one at CBP. The two teams met for a four-game series heading into the All-Star Break, with the Phillies standing at 43-40 and six games out in the NL East. They were coming off a home series with Atlanta that saw them lose two of three games to the division leading Braves.

Chase Utley, Placido Polanco and Carlos Ruiz were all rehabbing various injuries and the Phillies rotation didn’t have the depth that it does now, with Roy Oswalt still pitching in Houston.

In that four-game series, the Phillies seemed to find their stride that sent them into the break on a four-game winning streak that brought them to within 4 1/2 games of the division lead.

The series was perfect for fans who love free baseball. The two teams engaged in a twelve inning game to open the series, followed by games going ten and eleven innings. The Phillies offense helped out in games one and two, winning 4-3 and 9-7.

The pitching took over in game three, with young Travis Wood facing veteran Roy Halladay. Wood threw nine innings of one-hit ball, but Halladay also kept Cincinnati off the board to send the game into extra innings.  Brad Lidge and Jose Contreras continued the shutout and the Phillies offense was able to break through against the Reds bullpen when Jimmy Rollins delivered an RBI single in the bottom of the eleventh.

The next day, Cole Hamels, who was known this season for a lack of run support, took on former Phillies prospect Matt Maloney. Maloney threw well, allowing just one run in 6 2/3 innings, but again, Hamels and the Phillies bullpen were up to the challenge and the Phillies went into the break off of another 1-0 win over Cincinnati.

The three starters that the Phillies will throw against Cincinnati generally had success against them, with the exception of Roy Oswalt, who only faced the Reds during his time with the Astros. Oswalt went 0-2 with a 6.00 ERA against Cincinnati. Halladay and Hamels were a combined 1-1 with a 1.46 ERA, including Hamels 7 2/3 shutout innings against Cincinnati.

The relievers on the Phillies post-season roster have a combined mark of 4-0 with a 4.77 ERA this season, but much of that came from Brad Lidge, who was facing Cincinnati during his pre-all-star game struggles and not during his return to prominence that came after the break.

Some believe that the Reds bullpen is the best part of their club – although the offense may disagree – but the Phillies had little trouble against relievers who will be on the Reds roster. Those relievers were a combined 1-4 with a 7.97 ERA during the regular season. Again though, the Reds bullpen did get better as the season went along and those numbers were posted before Aroldis Chapman joined the relief corps.

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