Philly Sports Live

Chooch To The Rescue!

Game-tying blast opens floodgates; Phils three games out of first

NEW YORK — The calendar turns to June on Friday with Ryan Howard and Chase Utley on the disabled list, Cliff Lee without a win, Carlos Ruiz the team’s most dangerous hitter and the Phillies just three games out of first place in the National League East.

Who could have predicted that?

Well, the moment Howard suffered a setback from left Achilles surgery in February and Utley stopped taking ground balls because of a chronic left knee condition around the same time, many predicted they would not return to the Phillies’ lineup until June at the earliest (Howard is not expected back until July). But would anybody have thought Lee would be winless through his first eight starts, especially when he is carrying a respectable 3.00 ERA? And would anybody have thought Ruiz not only would be the team’s hottest hitter, but one of the hottest in baseball?

Ruiz, whose 1.010 OPS entering the game ranked sixth in baseball, helped save Lee from his third loss of the season with a big pinch-hit two-run home run in Wednesday’s 10-6 victory over the New York Mets at Citi Field. The victory moved the Phillies within three games of the first-place Nationals, despite being in last place in the division.