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CHC@PHI: Polanco delivers a clutch go-ahead double

PHILADELPHIA -- Placido Polanco maneuvered his way through the horde of reporters and hopped up on the red counter in the center of the Phillies' clubhouse at Citizens Bank Park.

He apologized for his tardiness.

"I had to comb hair," he joked.

Polanco, who sports a clean-shaven head, and the Phillies have had few reasons to smile and laugh lately, but they found them following Monday's 6-4 victory over the Chicago Cubs. Sure, the Phillies blew a three-run lead in the eighth inning -- just their second blown save of the season -- but a beleaguered offense led by two of its struggling stars scored two runs in the bottom of the inning to break the tie and send the Phillies on an important six-game road trip with some good vibes.

The Phillies finished April at 11-12.

"Other than last year, we're probably just where we always are," Jimmy Rollins said.

There is some truth to that. The Phillies, other than last season's 18-8 start, have never been particularly fast starters. Their mark this April is not terribly far behind previous Aprils, considering the offense has been one of the worst in baseball. In fact, the Phillies finished no better than two games over .500 in April in 2008, '09 or '10.

So Rollins thinks the Phillies will be fine then?

"No, we don't have a chance," Rollins said, flashing a smile.

Antonio Bastardo and Chad Qualls allowed three runs in the eighth inning to surrender a 4-1 lead. The big blow was the two-run home run Qualls, who had a 1.17 ERA after his first eight appearances, allowed to Bryan LaHair.

But Juan Pierre was hit by a pitch with one out in the bottom of the inning, and Rollins worked a lengthy at-bat against Rafael Dolis that ended with a single to right field, putting runners at the corners with two outs. Dolis threw to first base six times and made one pitchout attempt to try to keep Pierre at first. Rollins also called time out a couple of times to keep his head in the game.

"As a hitter, you have to keep your concentration and focus on what you need to do to possibly get a hit," Rollins said. "That's why I called timeout. I saw him throw over there three or four times in a row. Then, you start trying to see if the runner is going to run and the most important thing for you as a hitter is hit the ball. ... I don't know how I was able to, but I called timeout, got myself back together and worked it out."

Polanco then ripped a double to left field to score both runners and give the Phillies a two-run lead. It was his first multi-RBI game since June 10, when he had four RBIs against the Cubs.

"I'd say the last four or five games, I've been feeling really good," Polanco said.

The biggest reasons for the Phillies' offensive struggles have not been the absences of Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, but because the team's four healthy former All-Stars -- Rollins, Polanco, Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence -- have struggled.

But there is some evidence of life in some of their bats.

Rollins is hitting .364 (4-for-11) with one double, two RBIs, two walks and two runs since Charlie Manuel returned him to the leadoff spot Saturday. Polanco is hitting .438 (7-for-16) with two doubles, three RBIs and two walks in his last four games.

A team can have a late-inning rally with players hitting like that.

"Being in the one or two spot is a place we're familiar with," Rollins said of himself and Polanco. "We know who we are in those roles. Not that hitting somewhere else in the lineup changes the type of hitter you are, but mentally you start trying to find ways to adjust. What am I supposed to do in this position?"

The Phillies had cruised before the eighth. Phillies right-hander Vance Worley allowed five hits and one run, with two walks and five strikeouts in seven innings. He is 2-1 with a 1.97 ERA after five starts, and 13-4 with a 2.81 ERA in 26 starts since last season.

Worley has allowed just two earned runs in his last 22 innings, after surrendering a run in the seventh.

The Phillies begin their six-game road trip through Atlanta and Washington on Tuesday at Turner Field. It should be a good test. The Braves are a half-game behind the Nationals in the National League East.

"We're trying to play better baseball," Manuel said. "We're going to have to play better. Hopefully, this will carry over tonight and we'll play good in Atlanta." Comments