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Maikel Franco, Philadelphia Phillies slam Los Angeles Dodgers

By
Gordie Jones, The Sports Xchange
Philadelphia Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco (7). Photo by Mark Goldman/UPI
Philadelphia Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco (7). Photo by Mark Goldman/UPI | License Photo

PHILADELPHIA -- As Philadelphia rookie third baseman Maikel Franco came to the plate with the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh inning Tuesday night against the Los Angeles Dodgers, interim Phillies manager Pete Mackanin and coach Larry Bowa were discussing Franco's power slump.

"You kind of have a little banter back and forth: 'When's the last time he hit a home run?'" Mackanin said. "Or, 'He hasn't hit a home run in a while' -- kind of like putting it on him."

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Franco then put the ball in the seats.

His grand slam off reliever Joel Peralta snapped a 1-1 tie and propelled the Phillies to a 6-2 victory.

Franco's slam was the first of his career and the second by a Phillies player this season. It was also the first by a Phillies rookie since Ryan Howard hit one against the Atlanta Braves on Sept. 21, 2005. While Franco has otherwise been productive, it was just his second homer in his past 33 games.

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"It's amazing for me," he said.

Franco's heroics propelled Philadelphia to its 13th victory in 16 games since the All-Star break. The Phillies, owners of the best record in baseball in that stretch, nonetheless have the worst overall mark, 42-65.

The National League West-leading Dodgers saw their four-game winning streak end, and their division lead was sliced to two games over the San Francisco Giants.

The game marked the return to Philadelphia of Los Angeles shortstop Jimmy Rollins, who spent 15 years with the Phillies. Rollins, cheered lustily before the game and accorded a standing ovation before he hit in the first inning, went 2-for-5 and committed an error.

"It was cool," he said of the ovation. "I really appreciated it. It continued longer than I thought. It was a great moment."

Phillies starting pitcher Jerome Williams agreed.

"Jimmy is Philly," he said. "The years he's been here, he's done amazing things. He's forever a Phillie."

With the score tied 1-1, Philadelphia catcher Carlos Ruiz led off the seventh with a single off Alex Wood (7-7). Pinch hitter Domonic Brown then grounded to second baseman Howie Kendrick, who attempted to tag Ruiz, only to see the runner stop in his tracks.

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Kendrick threw to first to retire Brown, but Ruiz beat the throw to second by first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.

Wood intentionally walked second baseman Cesar Hernandez, and as he attempted to deliver a 3-2 pitch to center fielder Odubel Herrera, the ball slipped out of his hand. Ruiz came around to score before the ball could be recovered. After a conference, the umpires ruled a balk, leaving runners at second and third.

Herrera then walked to load the bases.

"If the ball crosses the foul line, it's a pitch," Mackanin said. "Because it didn't cross the foul line, it's a balk. The runners advance, but the ball's dead. ... I don't think I've ever seen that before, but as it turned out, it worked out best for us with Franco's home run."

Peralta replaced Wood, and Franco hit a 1-1 curveball into the seats in left field for his 12th homer of the season.

"I tried to make an adjustment," Franco said. "I tried to go out there and tried to see a good pitch to hit, and that's what happened. He threw me a good pitch to hit, and I put good contact on it."

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Jeanmar Gomez (1-2) earned the victory in relief. Ken Giles pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings to pick up his third save.

Wood, making his first start for the Dodgers since he was acquired in a trade with the Atlanta Braves last week, went 6 1/3 innings and allowed four runs and eight hits. He struck out eight and walked two.

"I probably should've taken him out after the sixth," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "He did a good job."

Williams, who was looking to end a personal five-game losing streak, instead got a no-decision. Winless over his past nine starts, he went five innings and allowed one run and seven hits.

The Phillies broke on top in the third inning.

Hernandez singled with one out and Herrera followed with a double into the right field corner, bringing Hernandez all the way around to score.

The Dodgers knotted it at 1-1 in the fifth inning. Rollins led off with a single but was erased on a fielder's choice. Consecutive singles by Gonzalez and left fielder Andre Ethier delivered Kendrick with the tying run.

An RBI double by Los Angeles pinch hitter Carl Crawford in the eighth cut the gap to 5-2, but Brown singled home a Philadelphia run in the bottom of that inning.

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NOTES: Dodgers SS Jimmy Rollins said before the game that the Phillies' clubhouse was "a rough place" last year and that he spoke with GM Ruben Amaro after the season (and before Rollins' trade to Los Angeles) about the problems former manager Ryne Sandberg had communicating with the players. "I thought that was something that he needed to work on," Rollins said. "When you manage, you have to manage the players -- manage the game during game time, but in the meantime, you have to manage the players." ... Before the game, the Dodgers reinstated C A.J. Ellis (right knee inflammation) from the disabled list and optioned C Austin Barnes to Triple-A Oklahoma City. ... Phillies 2B Chase Utley, on the disabled list since June 23 with an inflamed right ankle, continued his rehab assignment with Double-A Reading on Tuesday, going 1-for-4. He is scheduled to play for Reading again Wednesday.

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