MILWAUKEE - Raul Ibanez reached second after a small bobble. Carlos Ruiz laid down a crucial bunt. It is the little things that the Phillies keep excelling at as they run away with the National League.
Ibanez doubled and scored on LaTroy Hawkins’s throwing error in the 10th, and the Phillies beat the Brewers, 3-2, last night for their sixth straight win.
“It worked out well for us,’’ Ibanez said. “This team is always trying to find a way to win, however that is, sometimes it’s not exactly how you plan it, but it works out.’’
The NL East-leading Phillies are on pace for their best season in franchise history and could clinch a playoff berth today with a win and a loss by the Cardinals. Philadelphia can complete a four-game sweep against Milwaukee today.
“Hopefully we do,’’ Phillies starter Cliff Lee said. “It’s not like we felt like we had to come in here and sweep them to make a statement, it’s just playing the way we play and it’s kind of the way it’s turned out.’’
Hunter Pence and Placido Polanco homered for the Phillies, who are 12 games ahead of Atlanta in the division race.
“I’m happy with that number,’’ Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “That’s what we play for. If we could be 20 up, we would be.’’
Casey McGehee scored a run in a plate collision with Ruiz and drove in another off Lee to end his scoreless innings streak at 30 2/3.
But the Brewers lost their fifth straight as their NL Central lead dropped to six games over the Braves.
In the 10th, Ibanez led off with a double against Hawkins (1-1) after right fielder Corey Hart bobbled the ball just a little, allowing him to reach second.
Ibanez scored when Ruiz laid down a bunt, and Hawkins took a bad angle, thinking McGehee would field the ball from third. He then fired well over Prince Fielder’s head at first for an error.
“I think he thought Casey was going to get it. Casey thought he was going to get it,’’ Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. “That’s a bunt that’s in between the spot where Casey thinks the pitcher is going to get, we have a shot at third, which he did. It’s a judgment play.’’
Michael Stutes (6-1) pitched the ninth for the victory, and Ryan Madson converted his 30th save.
Madson walked Hart to start the inning, and Hart reached second on Craig Counsell’s bunt. Ryan Braun struck out and Fielder was intentionally walked for McGehee, who grounded out.
Philadelphia has dominated two of the other three NL playoff contenders over the last six games, also sweeping Atlanta.
The Brewers, meanwhile, have their smallest division lead since Aug. 14.
McGehee reached second on a throwing error before his vicious forearm blow tied it in the second inning. Yuniesky Betancourt singled and Ruiz got center fielder Shane Victorino’s throw in plenty of time and had the plate blocked well.
But McGehee lowered his body and slammed his forearms into the catcher’s mask to jar the ball free, then popped up and let out an emotional scream with both fists clinched tightly for a team that’s sputtering at the wrong time.
“If I was the runner, I would’ve done the same thing,’’ said Ruiz.