Pratt hits three-run homer in win

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- There were no champagne showers or wild
celebrations. Still, the Philadelphia Phillies were happy with
their late-September clinch.

Todd Pratt hit a three-run homer and the Phillies secured
consecutive winning seasons for the first time in 21 years with an
8-4 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first game of a
doubleheader Wednesday.

"It's not where we all thought we would be, but it's better
than a losing season," Pratt said.

The Phillies (82-75) -- 86-76 a year ago -- last had consecutive
winning seasons in 1982-83. In 1983, the Phillies reached the World
Series and expectations were that high coming into this season with
a $93 million payroll that included a new All-Star closer, a
revamped bullpen and a promising starting rotation.

Instead of overtaking Atlanta in the NL East, the Phillies were
eliminated from playoff contention Monday night and there has been
speculation about manager Larry Bowa's future.

Injuries and inconsistency spoiled the Phillies' first season in
their new ballpark and made its "Now Is The Time" slogan --
proudly imprinted on spiffy red shirts they wore in spring training
-- a setup for a bad punchline on Philadelphia sports talk radio.

"Anytime you start the season, you want to win more than you
lose," Bowa said. "We've done that three of the four years I've
been here."

Now Bowa hopes to get a shot at five.

Philadelphia backed Vicente Padilla (7-7) with a five-run second
on Pratt's second homer of the year and RBI singles by Pat Burrell
and Placido Polanco.

"I can still hit," said Pratt, making his 37th start for Mike
Lieberthal. "Sometimes you don't get the repetitions or 20 at-bats
a month."

The Phillies made it 8-4 in the seventh on a two-run triple by
Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley's sacrifice fly. The inning ended
when left fielder Jason Bay threw out Polanco at home.

Padilla allowed four runs and six hits in five innings -- his
third straight start where he's failed to go longer than that.
Padilla gave up Ty Wigginton's 17th homer of the year, a three-run
shot to left in the second, and a Jack Wilson sacrifice fly.

The Phillies are still cautious with Padilla, who does not talk
to reporters, after a stint on the disabled list from May 30 to
Aug. 9 with right triceps tendinitis.

"He's still not throwing the ball where it's electric, with
that popping fastball," Bowa said.

Rheal Cormier, Ryan Madson and Tim Worrell pitched four
scoreless innings of relief.

Ian Snell (0-1) gave up 11 hits, five walks and eight earned
runs in five innings in his first major league start. He was the
11th different pitcher to start this year for Pittsburgh.

"He just elevated some pitches and they hit the heck out of
them," manager Lloyd McClendon said.

Game notes
The game was a makeup of Tuesday night's rainout. It was
the first twi-night doubleheader in the first season at Citizens
Bank Park. The Phillies and Tigers played a day-night doubleheader
in June. ... Pratt now has more homers (two) than triple plays
(one). ... Pittsburgh's Rob Mackowiak grounded into only his second
double play of the season. ... The Phillies improved to 38-38 at
home. ... Phillies 1B Jim Thome was out of the lineup, still
suffering from discomfort in his chest resulting from a collision
on Sept. 15. Bowa said Thome had an EKG.