One-man wrecking crew Ibanez leads Phillies over Pirates

Raul Ibanez.

‘Rauuuul’ was the chant coming from the stands as Raul Ibanez doubled home the game-winning run and the Phillies edged the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-5 in 10 innings.

The fans had plenty of practice serenading Ibanez. The Phillies’ elder statesman also hit a pair of home runs and drove in four runs, leading the team to a sweep of the Pirates.

“He was a one-man wrecking crew,” Phillies starter Vance Worley said. “He always seems to hit well when I pitch, which I love. He’s such a great hitter. He was locked in today.”

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Worley, who blew a pair of one-run leads, was not locked in. The rookie right-hander gave up four earned runs in six innings, which snapped a streak of seven straight starts in which he failed to give up more than two runs.

“Vance did a great job and the bullpen came in and battled, and we got guys on base when we needed to and good things happened,” Ibanez said.

The good things happened when Ibanez (59 RBIs) stepped into the batter’s box.

“I was just trying to get a good pitch to hit and stay through it, and it worked out today,” Ibanez said.

Charlie Manuel sung the praises of Ibanez, who loves playing for a manager who supports him whether he’s slumping or not.

“He’s so supportive,” Ibanez said. “His belief in you rubs off.”

Manuel wouldn’t be surprised if Ibanez stays hot like he did the second half of last season. Ibanez has 25 RBIs in his last 21 games, but he isn’t thinking ahead.

“I don’t look back and I don’t look to the future,” Ibanez said. “I just try to live in the moment.”

For the moment, he’s the Phillies’ starting left fielder. Conventional wisdom has the newly-acquired Hunter Pence in right next season and Domonic Brown in left for the 2012 campaign.

“I can’t think about that,” Ibanez said. “It’s great having Hunter Pence on the team. He’s a very good player.”

Well, it’s a short sample set but the Phillies are 2-0 in the Pence era and the inconsistent offense has scored 13 runs in those two games.

“I just want to be part of all of this,” Pence said. “I want to contribute. This is not a one-man show. Everybody on this team contributes. Look at what Raul did today and Ryan [Howard] did yesterday. Every night it’s a team effort.”

The Phillies reached August without losing their 40th game.

“That’s unbelievable,” Pence said. “That’s very different from where I came from [the Astros have 73 losses]. It’s great to be part of a winning environment.”


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