Feliz, Happ lead way as Phillies cap 9-1 homestand

PHILADELPHIA -- Pedro Feliz provided the offense, J.A. Happ kept the Pirates in check, and in a span of little more than a week the Phillies have gotten themselves on track.

Feliz hit a first-inning grand slam, and Happ allowed one run in seven innings to help Philadelphia cap a 9-1 homestand with a 5-2 win over Pittsburgh on Sunday. The winning run has erased much of the misery of the 4-14 stretch that preceded it.

"We came off of a real down spell, came home and won some games here," said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. "We've been able to put a little streak together before the break."

The Phillies, who won their fifth straight, scored five times in the first off rookie Virgil Vazquez.

Happ (6-0) welcomed the support and handcuffed the Pirates most of the afternoon. The left-hander recorded his fifth straight strong outing, compiling a 2.00 ERA during that span and solidifying a spot in the starting rotation. Happ began the season in the bullpen, but has since switched spots with Chan Ho Park, a move that has worked out well for both.

"Seems like it makes sense that way," said Happ, who has always stated his preference for being a starter.

Ryan Madson tossed a scoreless eighth inning and J.C. Romero worked the ninth.

Jimmy Rollins began the game with a walk, his 10th of the homestand, and Shane Victorino and Chase Utley followed with singles off Vazquez (1-3). Ryan Howard plated the first run with a sacrifice fly to deep center. Three batters later, Feliz sent Vazquez's pitch into first few rows in left field.

"I was happy to do that for the team," said Feliz, whose grand slam was the sixth of his career. "I was trying to get a good pitch to hit. He was a little high, and I got a good swing."

Added Vazquez, "I almost got out of that inning with a little pain, but he got me."

Philadelphia chased the right-hander, who was making his fourth major league start, after Rollins and Victorino reached again with one out in the second.

Pittsburgh's first run came in the sixth inning, when rookie-of-the-year candidate Andrew McCutchen singled and scored on All-Star Freddy Sanchez's double.

The Pirates hit into three double plays, including the seventh, when McCutchen fell for a fake by Rollins and Utley on a fly to right, and was doubled off first base.

"A young baserunning mistake," Russell said. "We're young, but we're making improvements."

Left-fielder Garrett Jones led off the ninth with his fifth home run, third in three games.

Solid pitching and a resurgent offense has contributed to Philadelphia's best homestand since May 31-June 12, 2005, when they went 12-1. The Phillies (48-38) enter the All-Star break and a comfortable lead over the second-place Marlins.

At the break last year, Philadelphia was 52-44 and a half game ahead of the New York Mets.

"We finally put it together at home and got some wins," Happ said. "We're in a good position now, and hopefully we'll stay there."

Howard said the during the bad stretch was to remember that good times will follow, like they did during last season's World Series run.

"We don't panic," Howard said. "We knew we were going to play better. It was just a matter of time."

Game notes
Pirates left-hander Zach Duke was named to the NL All-Star team. He replaces San Francisco 's Matt Cain, who was hit below his right elbow with a line drive on Saturday. "I was going to go home and sit on my butt for a few days, but that won't happen now," Duke said. ... The Phillies cavalcade of All-Stars received rousing applause before Sunday's game. Philadelphia sends Howard, Utley, Jayson Werth, Victorino and Raul Ibanez, plus Manuel and his entire coaching staff. ... The Phillies are 17-9 in day games, best in the NL. Manuel said Jamie Moyer will start Thursday, in the first game of the second half. He'll be followed by Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton and Happ.