July 13, 2009 2:00 PM

Phils Sweep Bucs, Complete First Half

Pirates vs. Phillies

There were two outs in the bottom of first inning, and the bases were jam-packed with Phillies. The Phils had already taken a 1-0 lead, in Sunday's game against the Pirates. With Pedro Feliz at the plate, they had a chance to break the game open. A single would give starting pitcher J.A. Happ a 3-0 lead to work with, which could be enough, considering how well the undefeated rookie southpaw has pitched this season.

Pedro Feliz failed to get a single, however. After falling behind in the count, 0 and 2, Feliz drove a Virgil Vasquez slider over the wall in left. The grand slam gave the Phillies a quick 5-0 lead. The Phillies' bats went dormant after the first frame, generating only three scattered hits, none of which were converted into runs. The early five-run advantage proved sufficient, as J.A. Happ (seven innings, one run), Ryan Madson (scoreless eighth), and J.C. Romero (solo HR allowed in ninth) held the lead. Happ, the early favorite to finish second in NL RoY voting, completes the first half with a 6-0 record, and a sterling 2.90 ERA.

The Phillies complete the first half of their season with a 48-38 record, and a four-game NL East lead over Florida. The Phillies' once-horrific home record has improved to 22-23, as the Phils closed with a nine-win, ten-game homestand. The Phillies are were they want to be, leading the division at the break, but there are many questions to be answered in the second half. Will Cole Hamels return to form? Will Roy Halladay and/or Pedro Martinez join Hamels in the rotation? Will Paul Bako really remain the backup catcher? Will Eric Bruntlett really remain on an MLB roster? Which minor league prospects will be dealt to fortify the parent club's roster? (Kyle Drabek? Carlos Carrasco? Jack Taschner? Michael Taylor? Crazy Hot Dog Vendor?) Stay tuned for a maelstrom of personnel moves, as the Phillies try to protect their division lead, and replenish their roster for another long postseason run.

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