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Lieberthal powers Phillies with two homers

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Mike Lieberthal had played too many
September games that didn't matter and had too many September
at-bats that didn't mean much.

It turns out he can handle the pressure of a playoff chase quite
well.

Lieberthal homered twice and drove in four runs as the
Philadelphia Phillies beat Cincinnati 7-3 Friday night and
reclaimed the NL wild-card lead.

"Being in a pennant race and coming to the field everyday is
kind of a rush," Lieberthal said.

The Phillies moved a half-game ahead of Florida, which lost 1-0
at Atlanta.

"Right now, it's just half a game," Lieberthal said. "Every
game is going to make a big difference."

The Phillies were in playoff contention in 2001, but Lieberthal,
who's played parts of the last 10 seasons with the Phillies, missed
all but 34 games with an injured right knee.

Randy Wolf (16-9) won his fourth straight decision, giving up
two runs and four hits in six shaky innings. He worked around four
walks, striking out eight.

Wolf's victory total is the highest by a Philadelphia pitcher
since Curt Schilling won 17 in 1997. Wolf improved to 3-0 this
season against the Reds and 5-1 lifetime.

The Reds lost their third in a row.

Wolf was aided by a three-run first inning. Marlon Byrd and
Bobby Abreu were on with walks when Lieberthal homered off Josh
Hall (0-1).

Lieberthal added a solo shot in the seventh, also over the
left-field fence. He has 13 homers this season and it was his first
multihomer game this year.

"The second half of the season, I feel much better," he said.

Lieberthal has 13 RBI in the last four games, going 6-for-16
with three homers and three doubles in that span. He's added
another threat in the middle of the lineup besides Jim Thome.

"You need that kind of help from the rest of the lineup,"
manager Larry Bowa said. "It can't be one guy all the time."

There was more help from Byrd, who hit a run-scoring single in
the second for a 4-0 lead. He added an RBI single in the sixth that
made it 6-2.

Wolf, cheered on by his faithful upper-deck followers, "The
Wolf Pack," labored to hold the early lead.

Throwing more off-speed pitches than usual and working deep
counts, Wolf walked Ray Olmedo to lead off the third. Hall bunted
back to the mound, but Wolf's throw hit Olmedo and bounced into
left field.

Ryan Freel hit an RBI double and Juan Castro grounded out to
score another run, making it 4-2. D'Angelo Jimenez walked, putting
runners on the corners, but Wolf got Sean Casey and Wily Mo Pena to
pop up and end the inning.

Again in the fifth, the Reds got two runners on with one out and
again Wolf pitched out of it, striking out Jimenez and getting
Casey on a comebacker.

Wolf appreciated Lieberthal's offensive output.

"He's had a great year so far, but his production has just been
amazing lately," Wolf said. "He's just coming through when we
need him."

Hall gave up five earned runs on five hits and four walks in
five innings of his fifth career start.

"It took a while to adjust to the mound. It's the highest mound
I've ever been on," Hall said. "That's no excuse, though. I
didn't pitch well."

Hall also allowed a bit of a rarity when Thome tripled off him
in the fifth for a 5-2 lead.

Abreu drew a two-out walk and Thome hit a liner at Freel in
center field. Freel twisted the wrong way, regained his footing,
then dropped to his knees in a feeble attempt to catch the ball.

The ball bounced over Freel's glove, as Thome chugged around the
bases and slid into third with his third triple of the season.

It was Thome's 123rd RBI -- the most by a Phillies player since
Greg Luzinski's 130 in 1977. He has an RBI in eight straight games
and is one shy of tying his career high set in 2001.

Wolf, however, opened the sixth by allowing a single to Pena and
walking Jason LaRue. Wolf ended the threat when he struck out the
next three batters.

Pena hit a solo homer in the eighth off Dan Plesac.

Game notes
Wolf now has a career-high 174 strikeouts. ... Jimmy
Rollins stole his 18th base for the Phillies. ... Abreu walked
three times. ... Hall led off the fifth with a single for his first
career hit. Hall also walked and scored in the third. ... The
boo-birds were out for Phillies LF Pat Burrell after he struck out
in the sixth. ... Casey went 0-for-3 against Wolf and is 3-for-19
in his career against him. ... Cincinnati's Ruben Mateo stuck out
swinging all four at-bats.