Phillies fall, but clinch home-field advantage for NLDS

PHILADELPHIA -- Despite losing their third straight game, the NL East champion Philadelphia Phillies still gained something on Saturday.

Anibal Sanchez pitched seven strong innings to lead the Florida Marlins to a 4-3 victory over the Phillies, who clinched home-field advantage in the first round with St. Louis' loss.

The Phillies have lost three straight since clinching their third consecutive NL East title on Wednesday, and were eliminated from the possibility of having home-field advantage throughout the NL playoffs. The Phillies could have clinched home field with wins in their final two games and two losses by the Dodgers.

Ryan Howard hit his 45th home run for Philadelphia, which went 7-0 at home in the playoffs last season.

"That was big, that's very important for us," Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel said of gaining home field. "I think we're definitely ready."

Sanchez (4-8) kept Philadelphia's offense quiet, allowing one run and five hits while striking out three and walking one.

"Sanchez was outstanding," said Florida manager Fredi Gonzalez, who passed Jack McKeon for most wins by a manager in Marlins history with his 242nd. "We've got a lot of good players and a good supporting staff. Hopefully we'll win another one tomorrow."

Cole Hamels (10-11), last season's World Series MVP, allowed three runs and three hits while walking two and striking out two in three innings.

Manuel has not selected his NLDS Game 1 starter, and Hamels is among the candidates. The left-hander would have to pitch on three days' rest if selected to open the series, and said he would be ready.

Still, he said the Phillies have other options such as Cliff Lee, Joe Blanton and Pedro Martinez to pitch the opener.

"I did it well [last year], it was fun, but you have to look at who's the best pitcher, who's the hottest pitcher," Hamels said. "Last year that was me, but this year it's been a struggle."

Florida did all of its damage against Hamels in the first two innings, before he pitched a scoreless third.

"Every pitch I threw for a strike was hit," Hamels said of the first two innings. "That third inning I took a deep breath, calmed down, got ahead of guys and finished them off. I felt good today and I'll be a lot stronger going into the next game."

Chris Coghlan led off the game with a double and scored on a double by Hanley Ramirez. Ramirez scored on Jorge Cantu's sacrifice fly to give Florida a 2-0 lead. The Marlins added a run in the second on Coghlan's double that scored Ronny Paulino.

Howard hit his 45th home run in the second inning to pull Philadelphia within 3-1.

It remained that way until Dan Uggla hit an RBI double to left in the eighth to make it 4-1. Jayson Werth's two-run homer in the bottom of the inning pulled Philadelphia within 4-3.

Leo Nunez pitched a scoreless ninth for his 26th save in 33 chances.

Coghlan has 110 hits since the All-Star break, tying him with Joe DiMaggio and Dick Allen for the fifth-most by a rookie after the break in major league history.

"He keeps swinging the bat and he's also played well in the field," Gonzalez said. "He's a baseball player."

Ramirez, who leads the NL in batting, left after playing the field in the third inning with a right knee contusion, and Cantu departed in the sixth after spraining his right ankle trying to avoid getting picked off second base.

Gonzalez said X-rays on Cantu were negative, adding that he didn't know whether Cantu or Ramirez would play Sunday.

Game notes
The Phillies recalled left-hander Antonio Bastardo to the roster before the game. Bastardo, who pitched one scoreless inning Saturday, made five prior appearances with Philadelphia this season. ... Philadelphia's Chase Utley went 0 for 2 and is hitless in his past 15 at-bats. ... Florida has won seven of the eight against the Phillies in Philadelphia this season.