PHILADELPHIA — The Phillies showed on a steamy Sunday afternoon that their youth movement may already be underway.
The team’s youngsters propelled Philadelphia to a 7-3 win over the Atlanta Braves before 38,148 fans at Citizens Bank Park.
Domonic Brown, 25, hit a home run and an RBI triple. Ben Revere, 25, knocked in two runs with triple, and 22-year-old rookie pitcher Jonathan Pettibone allowed one run in 51/3 innings for the win.
“We’re just doing our little part,” Brown said. “If guys are in scoring position, guys like Ben or myself are just trying to get the guy in.”
The Phillies are 2-1 on this pivotal 10 game homestand that leads into the All Star break. Philadelphia (43-46) trails the first-place Braves (50-38) by 7½ games in the National League East. With Sunday’s victory, the Phillies have won consecutive series from a pair of first-place teams — the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Braves.
Manager Charlie Manuel believes the Phillies can play even better.
“During the course of the year, you’re going to hit a couple of (stretches) where you can win six to eight or even 10 games (in a row),” Manuel said. “Ours is yet to come.”
The Phillies are an aging team. On Sunday, they started four players — Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Carlos Ruiz and Michael Young — who are at least 34. Ryan Howard, 33, is on the disabled list with an inflamed left knee.
Media and fans have debated much of this season whether the Phillies should trade their older stars for younger players and prospects.
But the transition to a younger team is already happening.
Brown is an All Star and leads the team in home runs (23) and RBIs (62). Revere leads the Phillies in hitting with a .295 average.
With the way the Phillies’ youngsters are playing, an argument can be made for Philadelphia to trade some of its veterans and still stay in contention. Those moves would allow the Phillies to get younger and also give some of the team’s current young players, such as 22-year-old Freddy Galvis, a chance to play every day.
Remember the Phillies nearly made the postseason in 2006 and then won five straight division titles after they traded a then 32-year-old Bobby Abreu to the New York Yankees in the summer of 2006.
On Sunday, the Phillies never trailed. Brown gave Philadelphia a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first with a triple down the right field line that scored Utley.
Revere made it 4-0 in the bottom of the fourth with the game’s key hit. He lined a two-out triple into the left center field gap to score two runs. Revere used his speed to reach third base. Nearly every other Phillies hitter would have had to settle for a double.
“Ben has a lot of talent,” Manuel said. “When his speed and talent shows up in a game, he can definitely help us win.”
Pettibone dominated the Braves until he wilted in the sixth inning. The rookie allowed one hit in the first four innings. He finished with six strikeouts.
Pettibone said a blend of youngsters and veterans is what will make the Phillies most successful.
“That’s what you need,” he said. “With most successful teams, you have veterans that take the reins and the younger guys bring it up from the bottom.”
This critical homestand continues at 7:05 p.m. today when the Phillies start a four-game series with the second-place Washington Nationals (46-42).
The Nationals have won four straight and seven of their last 10 games.
This homestand will go a long way toward determining whether the Phillies are legitimate playoff contenders.
The Phillies are playing with a sense or urgency.
“We have to go right now,” Brown said. “We’re definitely fighting and battling and hopefully we can win the series against the Nationals.”
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