Vance Worley has provided quite a pick-me-up for the Philadelphia Phillies this season. On Wednesday, they returned the favor for their rookie pitcher.
Ryan Howard and Hunter Pence homered as the Phillies overcame an early six-run deficit and beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 9-8 Wednesday for a three-game sweep.
The Phillies won for the 12th time in 13 games and completed a 9-1 road trip. They improved baseball's best record to 77-40 — Philadelphia is 37 games over .500 for the first time since 1977.
Down 6-0 after three innings, the Phillies rallied and eventually scored four times in the sixth for a 9-7 lead. Howard's 25th homer was a tiebreaking, two-run shot with two outs.
"Vance got off to kind of a rough start, but we were able to pick him up today," Howard said.
"We just believe the game isn't over until the 27th out is made," he said. "They got ahead early, but we knew there was a lot of game left. So you just kind of chip away, get a run here and a run there, and the next thing you know you're back in the game."
Kyle Kendrick (7-5) pitched one inning of relief for the win.
The Dodgers took a 5-0 lead in the first. Worley walked three batters, including Casey Blake and Andre Ethier with one out, and Matt Kemp singled home a run to end a personal six-game RBI drought.
Juan Rivera then drove Worley's 3-2 pitch to left-center for his first homer since connecting on the first pitch he saw with his new team on July 15 at Arizona. James Loney walked and came all the way around on a double by Dioner Navarro — who was tagged out in a rundown just before Jamey Carroll tripled.
The Dodgers increased their lead to 6-0 in the bottom half on Navarro's sacrifice fly.
Worley gave up six runs and seven hits in four innings and struck out six, after coming in with an 8-1 record. The 23-year-old right-hander's ERA jumped from 2.35 to 2.85 in his sixth start since he was recalled from Triple-A Lehigh Valley for the fourth time this season.
"I threw well in the bullpen, but none if it really transferred over to that first inning," Worley said. "I didn't locate very well and got tagged. But that's not the first time the guys have gotten me off the hook. When we're down, these guys are going to want to come back and win. And they did it. It was exciting to watch after I got pulled out."
Ryan Madson, the sixth Phillies pitcher, got three outs for his 22nd save in 23 attempts, giving up a run on a groundout by Juan Rivera before retiring pinch-hitter Rod Barajas on a flyball with the tying run at first. It was the first time in Madson's career that he saved every game of a three-game series.
"It's not very often you get three saves in a row in a series, so that's definitely an impressive thing to do and a pretty cool thing for him to have," said teammate Brad Lidge, who has 223 career saves and converted all 44 attempts in 2008, including three in the postseason. "He's been throwing great all year, but it's just a matter of opportunities in a situation like that. His focus in the ninth inning this year is as good as it's ever been in any inning."
Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley couldn't get out of the fifth inning after getting staked to the six-run lead, but it wasn't entirely his fault. Three of the five runs he gave up in his 4 1-3 innings were unearned — two of them in the fifth, after a fielding error by Blake at third base on a potential inning-ending double-play grounder by Pence that allowed Shane Victorino to score from second base.
That was all for Billingsley, who slammed his glove on the bench after returning to the dugout. Hong-Chih Kuo came in and Raul Ibanez drove in Howard with a groundout, narrowing Philadelphia's deficit to 6-5.
The Phillies began their comeback in the fourth after Billingsley walked Howard for the second time to open the inning. Pence hit his 14th homer of the season. Michael Martinez then reached on a two-base error by Loney at first base and scored on Worley's single.
Loney hit an RBI double in the fifth off Kendrick to make it 7-5. But Chase Utley tied it with a two-run single in the sixth against Blake Hawksworth (2-3) and Howard drove the right-hander's 2-1 pitch into the lower seats in the left-field corner, raising his NL-leading RBI total to 91.
"That team over there, they're not going to quit," Loney said. "They don't care what the score is, who's pitching or who's hitting. They believe they can beat you in any game and they're never out of it. I'm not happy when they beat us, but I do respect the way they play the game. They're one of the best teams playing right now, if not the best."
NOTES: Rivera's homer ended a string of 21 singles by the Dodgers against Philadelphia pitchers without an extra-base hit since Kemp's two-run homer off reliever Michael Stutes on July 7. ... Worley played his college ball about 29 miles south of Dodger Stadium at Long Beach State. He has given up a home run in each of his last four starts, after allowing just one over his seven previous outings for the Phillies this season. ... The Dodgers didn't score a first-inning run in their previous eight home games — and hadn't scored more than three in the first inning in any of their 61 previous games at Chavez Ravine this season. ... Billingsley is 0-4 with a 5.72 ERA in his last six starts against the Phillies, including losses in Games 2 and 5 of the 2008 NL championship series. ... Utley tied Tony Taylor's franchise record of 1,003 games by a second baseman.