By PATRICK GORDON | Managing Editor
May 18, 2014
PHILADELPHIA - It may be an old cliché, but Ryne Sandberg still believes hitting is contagious.
Trailing 2-0 in the first inning, the Phillies went on to score eight unanswered runs en route to an 8-3 win over the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park.
Over the past two days the Phillies have scored 20 runs – this on the heels of a 20 inning scoreless streak.
“Today’s game was built off the momentum from yesterday’s game,” Sandberg said. “The potential with guys up and down this lineup continues to be there.”
Jimmy Rollins and Wil Nieves hit back-to-back home runs in the opening frame, tying the contest and marking just the fifth time in franchise history the Phillies opened a game with back-to-back home runs.
The Phillies went on to record at least a hit in every inning except the ninth with Cody Asche’s three-run blast in the seventh the highlight of the afternoon.
“I think good at-bats are contagious,” Asche said. “Up and down the lineup I think you’ve seen that the last two days, people are just putting together good at-bats.”
Asche finished the day 2-for-4 and is hitting .333 with a .414 OBP during the month of May.
“Trailing 2-0 in the top of the first and then to get it right back with back-to-back homers, I think it’s a carryover game on the offensive side and hopefully that’s something we can continue,” Sandberg said. “Once a guy gets hot it can rub off on other players and carry over.”
Cliff Lee tossed 6 2.3 innings and surrendered two runs on nine hits to collect the win, his first of the year at Citizens Bank Park. He threw 116 pitches, 81 for strikes.
“For whatever reason, it took me the first inning to get the ball where I wanted it to go,” Lee said. “Definitely not the way you want to start the game, but we hit two home runs in the bottom half of the inning and that picked me up right there.”
Lee entered Sunday's contest winless this season at home, despite carrying a 1.55 ERA over four starts. He was happy to see the offense come through behind him with a solid effort.
“It’s definitely easier to pitch with the lead,” Lee said. “You can attack the strike zone and pitch a little bit more out over the plate and not worry so much if you give up a solo home run because it won’t hurt you so bad.”
Tied at 2-2, Lee opened the bottom portion of the fifth with a single and Rollins followed with a hard hit ball to third that Todd Frazier was unable to handle. Nieves then dropped a sacrifice, allowing Chase Utley to drive Lee across the plate via a fielder's choice to push the Phillies ahead to a 3-2 lead.
Marlon Byrd chipped in with a solo shot in the sixth before Asche’s blast broke the game open in the seventh.
The win secured a series victory over the Reds and marked the club's fifth series win over a National League opponent.
“I think you’ve seen over the past two days what can happen when we put together all three phases of the game,” Asche said.
The Phillies have an off day on Monday before opening a three-game set in Miami on Tuesday.
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