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ATL@PHI: Galvis hammers walk-off home run in ninth

PHILADELPHIA -- The supposition all along has been that Freddy Galvis is far more likely to win a Gold Glove Award than a Silver Slugger Award. And that's probably still true even though the 23-year-old had the first four-hit game of his Major League career Saturday night, including a one-out homer off reliever Freddy Garcia that gave the Phillies a 6-5 walk-off win over the first-place Braves at Citizens Bank Park.

Galvis came into the game hitless in his last 17 at-bats. But interim manager Ryne Sandberg liked what he'd seen in the three singles Galvis had gotten prior to the ninth, including one up the middle that drove in a run in the fifth.

"I liked his line-drive stroke that he had. Base hit up the middle for an RBI. I think he just got a hold of a pitch [in the ninth] and reacted to it, resulting in a home run without a big home run swing. So I think the hits leading up to it all worked. And that's his game, staying on top of the ball and using the whole field with his line-drive stroke," the manager said.

Galvis wouldn't have even gotten to the plate in the bottom of the ninth if closer Jonathan Papelbon hadn't served up a two-out, game-tying two-run homer to Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons in the top of the ninth. It was Papelbon's seventh blown save of the year and snapped a 10-inning scoreless streak. He was roundly booed when he walked off the mound at the end of the inning, before the shortstop got him off the hook.

"When I went to [Triple-A] Lehigh Valley, I tried to work on going to the opposite field. Tried to spray the ball more. Try to let the pitch get deeper and hit a line drive. And I think it's working," Galvis said.

Noted Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez: "We left a ball out over the plate, and Freddy Galvis got us and we're walking off."

Until that point, the Phillies' stars of the game were catcher Carlos Ruiz and starting pitcher Kyle Kendrick.

Ruiz drove in three runs with a single and a double. And that could have an impact beyond accounting for half the Phillies' runs.

Ruiz can be a free agent at the end of the year. After missing the first 25 games for testing positive for a banned amphetamine and then another month with a hamstring strain, the 2012 All-Star was struggling both offensively and defensively. It wasn't that long ago that general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. was talking about catching being a crucial issue that the team would have to address in the postseason, and it appeared the Phillies would take a close look at what else might be available on the market before thinking about re-signing Ruiz.

Ruiz, however, has picked it up since then. In his last 28 games, he's hitting .319 with four homers and 16 RBIs. If he finishes strong, the Phils could decide that retaining him is their best option. Especially since Atlanta's Brian McCann figures to be the prize catching catch of the winter, but he bats left-handed and the Phillies' lineup is desperate for a productive bat from the right side. A.J. Pierzynski and Jarrod Saltalamacchia are also lefty swingers. Dioner Navarro of the Cubs could be a possibility; so could Kurt Suzuki if Oakland doesn't pick up his option.

"It means a lot. I think I've come a long way. I worked real hard to get my swing back and right now I feel great. I've had some good at-bats and I hope to continue that," Ruiz said. "They haven't said anything about next year. We're open to talk whenever they want. At the same time, I'm happy and healthy. Everything depends on the Phillies. If they want to talk before the end of the season, we're OK with that. If not, we'll wait and see what we've got in the market. It's not in my hands, you know? The only thing I can do is continue to play and try to finish strong." 

Sandberg won't have the final vote, but he has been impressed with the catcher's play of late.

"He's playing real well. I think he's playing like the Chooch that everybody knows," Sandberg said. "He's a key guy in the lineup right now. And he has been for three weeks now. I don't know if I have a vote, but he's a pretty good player right now."

Ruiz's production was a big reason why Kendrick was in line for just his second win since July 19, a chance that went out the window when Papelbon gave up the tying homer.

Kendrick's 2013 has been a tale of two seasons. In his first 12 starts, he was 7-2 with a 3.12 ERA. In his next 16 outings, going into Saturday night, he was 4-9, 5.74.

In his first 12 games, Kendrick gave up as many as five runs twice and two or fewer nine times. Since then, he's allowed five or more nine times and two or fewer four times.

Kendrick looked more like the April-May Kendrick against the Braves on Saturday. He allowed three runs on four hits. His eight strikeouts tied a career high, accomplished once before. Tellingly, only two of his 18 outs were on balls hit in the air. Kendrick is most successful when he keeps the ball down in the zone.

"That's good. It means I'm keeping the ball down," Kendrick said. "Obviously with most pitchers, especially with myself, when you're up, there's a chance for damage there. I was able to keep the ball down most of the night. And that was a goal of mine going into the night."

Sandberg lifted Kendrick after six innings and 91 pitches.

"At that point, he had done his job," the manager said. "He had better stuff. He had both fastballs working. To right-handed hitters, he had cut fastballs away. To left-handed hitters, he had his two-seam fastball. He had the stuff to be effective."

The second straight comeback win assured the Phillies of a series win over the team with baseball's second-best record. They had been just 3-10-1 in series since the All-Star break after going 13-12-6 in the first half.

"I think it means a lot," Sandberg said. "There are games to be played. And there are games to be won. But I think the quality of baseball and the improved baseball against a team like the Braves shows the resilience in the guys. Good hustle out there. Good baseball being played, and that's what you have to do to beat the Braves."

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