PHILADELPHIA — Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg peered into the dugout and looked for a sign from coach Larry Bowa during the fifth inning Thursday afternoon.
Sandberg spoke with second-base umpire Bill Welke. The manager wanted to know from Bowa if he should use instant replay to challenge a call Welke had just made. Bowa shrugged his shoulders.
“That’s not what I was looking for,” Sandberg said. “That’s a new sign that he just threw in.”
Expanded use of instant replay is new to baseball this season.
The Phillies, who have been involved in several replay challenges this season, got a key reversal in the fifth inning and beat the Atlanta Braves 1-0 before 25,750 fans at Citizens Bank Park.
Philadelphia center fielder Ben Revere (3-for-4) knocked in the winning run with a single in the bottom of the eighth inning. The Phillies begin a 10-game road trip in Colorado against the Rockies at 8:40 tonight.
With Thursday’s game scoreless and no outs in the top of the fifth, Braves runner Andrelton Simmons tried to steal second. He dove headfirst and passed the bag. But he scrambled back to second while Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins swiped several times with his glove to tag him. Welke made the safe sign.
In past, that call would have stood, but this season each manager gets one instant replay challenge in the first six innings. Umpires are in charge of reviews from the seventh inning on.
The new replay rules have changed the game. Managers rarely storm out of the dugout to argue calls. Rather, like Sandberg did Thursday, they now walk out of the dugout to speak with umpires. They are stalling, giving their coaches time to review the play and see if it should be challenged.
Sandberg continued to look at Bowa. But after the initial shrug, Bowa had even less to say.
“I looked back at him,” Sandberg said with a laugh, “and he wouldn’t even look at me. He wasn’t much help.”
Sandberg decided to challenge the call anyway, in part because he liked the way Phillies starter A.J. Burnett (seven innings pitched, three hits, no runs) was throwing. And if Sandberg was wrong, the Phillies would lose the challenge — not that big of a deal in the fifth inning.
“I just decided to take a shot right there,” Sandberg said. “That could have been a big run. It was worth the risk.”
Fans watched the play on the giant scoreboard in left field as the umpires left the field for the review. Revere and left field Domonic Brown stood together in the outfield and watched the replay.
“We were out there looking,” Revere said, “and I was like, ‘I swear I thought (Rollins) tagged him.’ ”
The umpires reversed the call. The replay revealed that Simmons had taken his hand off the bag and been tagged by Rollins. The Braves no longer had a runner in scoring position and the game remained scoreless.
“It was close,” Revere said. “It was a half-second he had his hand off the bag, and Jimmy got his glove on him. That was real big.”
There has been talk around baseball that reviews are taking too much time and lengthening games. But this one lasted 1 minute, 47 seconds — time well spent for Philadelphia.
The Phillies scored the winning run in the eighth inning. Brown led off with a single. After pinch-hitter Ryan Howard drew a one-out walk, Revere singled up the middle to score Brown. Jonathan Papelbon retired the side in order — striking out two — to preserve the win.
With the victory, the Phillies finished the homestand 4-5. Philadelphia (7-8) trails the Braves (10-5) by three games in the National League East. If the Phillies lost Thursday, they would have been five games back of the Braves — not terrible for the middle of April but not good either, especially with a 10-game trip looming.
Philadelphia now heads west feeling better about itself.
"The homestand was a little up and down, but it was good to end on a good note,” Sandberg said. “This was a big momentum game for us.”
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