Reds rough up Gordon, hold on to slim wild card lead

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- For one night, the long bus rides and the
years spent toiling in the minor leagues were worth it for Chris

Edwin Encarnacion hit a go-ahead RBI single in the ninth inning
against All-Star closer Tom Gordon, and Michalak pitched 6 2/3
solid innings in relief to lead the Cincinnati Reds over the
Philadelphia Phillies 9-7 Saturday night.

Ryan Freel drove in three runs and Cincinnati's struggling
bullpen held on this time, helping Michalak earn his first win in
the major leagues since 2001.

"It was awesome to be in a playoff atmosphere," said Michalak,
who learned at midnight Friday that he was coming up from Triple-A
Louisville. "It makes all the years in the minors and all the hard
work worthwhile."

Ryan Howard's NL-leading 40th homer tied it at 6 in the eighth
inning, but the Reds went ahead against Gordon, who blew his fourth
save in 31 chances in the ninth inning Friday night.

Michalak (1-0) gave up one run and three hits in his first
outing in the big leagues since 2002 with Texas. Eddie Guardado
allowed Jimmy Rollins' second homer of the game in the ninth, but
held on for his eighth save in nine chances after blowing a lead in
the ninth a night earlier.

Rollins' solo shot with two outs off Guardado cut it to 9-7.
Pinch-hitter Mike Lieberthal singled and Chase Utley was hit by a
pitch before Guardado struck out Howard to end it.

"We're very resilient. There's a lot of heart and character
here," Reds manager Jerry Narron said.

The NL wild card-leading Reds came in a half-game ahead of
Arizona and San Diego. The Phillies fell three games behind

Freel walked to start the ninth against Gordon (3-4). He stole
second and went to third on Scott Hatteberg's single up the middle.
Ken Griffey Jr. then hit a hard one-hopper to drawn-in second
baseman Utley, who only got Griffey at first base after making the

Encarnacion followed with a single to left field to put the Reds
ahead 7-6. With two outs, Javier Valentin had an RBI single and
Brandon Phillips had a run-scoring double to make it 9-6.

"I just didn't have the feel that I'd like to have," Gordon

Rollins also hit a three-run homer and David Dellucci had a
two-run shot for Philadelphia, which failed to get within a game of
.500 for the first time since June 20.

Michalak, called up earlier in the day after Kent Mercker went
on the disabled list, gave the Reds' bullpen a much-needed lift a
night after Narron used all his relievers -- except Rheal Cormier --
and two starters.

Elizardo Ramirez, who got the loss Friday, lasted just 1 1-3
innings. He allowed five runs and five hits, before giving way to

The 35-year-old left-hander allowed just two infield singles
before Howard led off the bottom of the eighth with a drive off a
huge billboard in front of the second deck in right field.

"He changed speeds tremendously, gave them a lot of different
angles," Narron said. "He's definitely a crafty left-hander."

Phillips had three hits, including a homer against Phillies
starter Scott Mathieson. Phillips snapped a 1-for-22 slump with a
solo shot leading off the fourth that tied it at 5. Royce Clayton
followed with a double and scored on Freel's one-out double that
gave the Reds a 6-5 lead.

After the Reds scored four runs with two outs in the second
inning to take a 4-2 lead, the Phillies went ahead 5-4 on Rollins'
three-run shot in the bottom half.

Ramirez ignited Cincinnati's four-run rally in the second by
beating out a grounder to third base with the bases loaded. Freel
followed with a two-run single to left and Hatteberg singled in
another run.

"Chris did an unbelievable job," Freel said. "He kept them
off balance and we got some timely hits."

Dellucci's two-run homer to straightaway center field gave the
Phillies a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Griffey climbed the wall
and reached over to make the grab, but the ball was just out of his

Mathieson allowed six runs and seven hits in 3 1-3 innings. The
rookie right-hander hasn't made it past the fourth inning in three
of his six starts.

Game notes
Howard became the sixth player in team history to reach 40
homers in a season. ... Rollins joined Steve Jeltz and Tomas Perez
as the only players in franchise history to homer from both sides
of the plate in the same game. Rollins has 17 homers. His previous
high was 14 in 2001 and 2004. ... Dellucci has 10 homers in 173
at-bats. Bobby Abreu had eight homers in 339 at-bats before he was
traded to the Yankees, giving Dellucci an opportunity for more
playing time. ... Michalak was 9-5 with a 2.99 ERA at Louisville.
... Griffey was 0-for-5 with three strikeouts and left five runners
in scoring position.