MIAMI – The Phillies didn't do much over the course of seven innings on Saturday night, but the eighth inning quickly turned into a banner night for Andres Blanco.
The infielder sparked the Phillies' three-run comeback in the top of the eighth, turning a 12-pitch at-bat into a double as the Phils roared back and rallied their way to a 4-3 win over Miami at Marlins Park (see Instant Replay).
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With David Lough on first after a leadoff walk against Miami reliever Kyle Barraclough, Blanco – representing the tying run – fell behind 0-2 to the right-hander, who has been a crucial part of the Marlins' bullpen success.
"It's a hard job to do," said Blanco of pinch-hitting late in the game. "It's a lot of responsibility. I got lucky, I think. A lot of foul balls. He threw a lot of good pitches. I was about to throw my bat to foul it off and stay alive."
Blanco said he relied on an old habit: talking to himself between pitches.
"I told myself, ‘Don't give up, keep battling.' See it, fight…just hit it and put the ball in play," Blanco said. "I get mad at myself and swing crazy sometimes. I keep talking to myself, all the time."
It paid off on the 12th pitch when he lined a double into the right-field corner to move Lough to third.
"In any situation, everybody who's battling and giving good at-bats, everybody gets the message," Blanco said. "Everybody tries to keep it going. Fortunately, we got the run we needed."
The break came when first baseman Chris Johnson, who switched to the position from third base after Martin Prado entered the game as a defensive replacement, dropped an easy double-play throw from second baseman Miguel Rojas.
The out would have ended the inning but instead allowed Odubel Herrera to score the winning run on the play.
The twin-killing appeared so obvious that Marlins reliever Bryan Morris, who induced the grounder off the bat of Maikel Franco, was walking toward the Miami dugout with his back to the play.
"It was on an error, but it counts," Blanco added.
"That was a break, but it's good to win, especially against these guys, who have a real good team," said Phillies manager Pete Mackanin, whose club broke its three-game losing skid.
"They say most close games are lost by one team, not necessarily won by the other. I think that was a little bit of both. That really helped us. It happens."
Blanco stayed in to play first base and contributed there as well.
He shifted his feet late and held the bag in the baserunner's path on a throw from Franco to get Marcell Ozuna to end a perfect eighth inning by reliever David Hernandez.
"As a shortstop, you go in (all) directions," Blanco said. "I just knew I wasn't going to get it, so I changed my mind. I'm glad it wasn't a faster guy because it would've been a terrible miss or I'd have been hit or crashing."
"My heart was beating so hard, I started shaking…oh my God."
Mackanin said Blanco's play at first base was as eye-opening as the long at-bat.
"The footwork at first base was an outstanding play," the manager said. "This guy's so valuable to us. He doesn't play first base a lot."
"We'll take it. There's our four runs. I'm real happy to win that game tonight."