Rollins Homerun Sparks Phils To 4-3 Win

Jimmy Rollins' first homerun of the season led the Phillies to a 4-3 win over the visiting Florida Marlins Tuesday night at Veteran's Stadium. The win was the fourth in a row for the Phillies and combined with a Montreal Expos' loss to Atlanta, put the Phillies in a tie for first place in the NL East. The win, the Phillies ninth of the season, matched their win total for all of last April when they started the season 9-19.

Joe Roa pitched through five innings and looked as though he could have gone further, but was pulled in favor of Hector Mercado to start the sixth. Roa, who struggled through his first two starts of the season, pitched well, allowing four hits and no earned runs in his five innings of work and left with a 1-0 lead after he singled home Pat Burrell with the games first run in the second inning. Roa credited pitching coach Joe Kerrigan with spotting a flaw in his delivery after his last start with the sudden turn around. "I know my velocity was back to where it was in spring training," said Roa. "I felt real comfortable today."

While Roa pitched well enough to win, he didn't record the victory because Mercado allowed a run in the top of the sixth, tying the game 1-1. Carlos Silva (2-0) came on to pitch the seventh and wound up with the win thanks to Jimmy Rollins three-run blast in the bottom of the inning that gave the Phillies a 4-1 lead.

Alex Gonzalez drove in his second run of the night in the top of the eighth inning with a ground rule double to center, cutting the Phillies lead to 4-2. Jose Mesa came on with two outs in the eighth and runners on second and third and got Luis Castillo to ground out and end the inning. Mesa pitched his way into trouble in the ninth, loading the bases with nobody out and giving up an RBI groundout to pinch-hitter Ivan Rodriguez making it a 4-3 game. Gonzalez then came up with runners on second and third and two out and hit a smash down the third-base line that David Bell backhanded and threw to first. The throw sailed off-line, but Jim Thome stretched and made a backhanded scoop of the ball with the play just beating Gonzalez' race to the bag for the final out of the game. The play gave Mesa his third save of the season. "Bell made a good play and Thome made a great play," said Phils manager Larry Bowa after the game.

Placido Polanco was hit on the right hand by a pitch from Josh Beckett after Rollins' homerun and both benches cleared with no punches being thrown. On Monday night, Marlins pitcher AJ Burnett hit Vicente Padilla with a pitch, causing the Phillies starter to exit the came with a forearm contusion. Polanco left the game as part of a double-switch and is listed as day-to-day with a contusion of the right hand. Polanco leads the league in being hit by pitches this season, having been plunked four times already.

The Phillies and Marlins play game three of the four game series Wednesday night at The Vet.


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