for this game

Phillies edge Marlins despite shaky outings by Wolf, Gordon

Sep 30, 2006 - 9:50 PM MIAMI (Ticker) -- Randy Wolf apparently was not hungry. Luckily for the Philadelphia Phillies, Shane Victorino was.

Wolf was unable to make it through two innings, but Victorino scored on Ryan Howard's infield single in the third and the Phillies survived another high-wire act by Tom Gordon to post a critical 4-3 victory over the Florida Marlins.

With the win, Philadelphia (85-76) - which entered trailing both San Diego and Los Angeles by two games for the National League wild card - kept alive its slim hopes for the postseason. However, both the Padres and Dodgers (87-74) also recorded victories later Saturday, assuring the Phillies they would not return to the playoffs for the first time since 1993.

Unbeaten in his 11 previous starts this season, Wolf had the Philadelphia fans in attendance howling early. The lefthander yielded solo homers to Miguel Cabrera and Josh Willingham in the opening inning and surrendered a 3-2 lead the following frame by allowing a run-scoring single by opposing starter Scott Olsen.

"It's a bittersweet day," Wolf said. "You want the ball and to be able to pitch in a big game like this, but then you (stink)."

With his team's season on the line, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel gave Wolf the early hook, replacing him with Ryan Madson (11-9).

"If it had been a little earlier (in the season) and with not so much on the line, I probably would have left him out there to work through it," Manuel said. "But with him struggling and us needing to win, I didn't want to chance it."

"I just needed to put (their hitters) away. I didn't need to be perfect," Wolf said. "So I go out there and don't get anything done. It's very disappointing."

The lanky righthander was the first of a group of five relievers that kept the Marlins at bay the rest of the way, allowing two hits and a walk in 2 1/3 innings.

Victorino ignited the decisive third-inning rally with a leadoff double. The fiesty Hawaiian hit a flare to right-center field and never hesitated, using his aggressiveness to make it to second base.

"When you get a pitch (to hit), you just want to make the most of it," Victorino said. "Fortunately, I was able to do that. Every at-bat is so important now. You just try to make good contact."

After Chase Utley struck out, Victorino again used his hustle to score a run. With the infield shifted to the right, Howard hit a grounder that was fielded by Dan Uggla. But the second baseman's throw to first was off-line, allowing the Phillies' slugger to leg out a single.

Victorino rounded third and continued home, drawing a throw that sailed over catcher Matt Treanor's head but likely would not have saved the run if it had been accurate.

"You don't want to be overaggressive, but it all counts now," Victorino said. "You have to leave it all out there between the white lines."

"That was very good hustle on his part," Howard added. "I was just trying to get it done from my end, but then I turn around and see him score. That was important."

Uggla also indirectly gave credit to Victorino for his effort.

"The Phillies just happen to be one of those teams that is better than us," the All-Star rookie said. "It's not for a lack of effort. That's just what happens in this league. Today was another case of them doing what they had to do to win."

Rick White and Matt Smith followed Madson with a scoreless inning apiece and Geoff Geary yielded two hits in two frames to set up things for Gordon. With a penchant for failing in playoff-type games, the righthander nearly lived up to his reputation.

Pinch hitter Jeremy Hermida led off with a broken-bat grounder to second, but Jason Wood followed with a double off the scoreboard in left-center field. Pinch runner Eric Reed moved to third on a passed ball by catcher Chris Coste before Hanley Ramirez hit a comebacker for the second out.

With a chance to atone for his earlier miscue, Uggla drilled an 0-1 offering to deep center field. But Victorino tracked it down and made an awkward-looking catch to seal the win and give Gordon his 34th save.

"I was so happy to see that ball caught," Gordon admitted. "I was living on the edge and just trying to make my pitches."

"That was a tough one," Florida manager Joe Girardi said. "We had a shot, but we just couldn't get that one hit."

Olsen (12-10) worked six innings, allowing four runs, five hits and four walks. The rookie lefthander, who also lost to Philadelphia on Sunday, struck out six but dropped his third straight decision.

"This was frustrating because a lot of the hits they had weren't hit hard, but they were enough to do the damage," Olsen said.

"He grew up and overcame a lot this year," Girardi said. "He overcame the thought that maybe he was going to be sent down (to the minors). You learn a lot of things in this league as a young player, and he certainly did."

Abraham Nunez delivered a two-run single in the second after an RBI base hit by Mike Lieberthal, who left the game in the fourth inning with a groin injury.

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