,PHILADELPHIA -- With two weeks and 12 games left in their season, the Phillies are beginning to resemble version 2007 with each passing day.

Thank Milwaukee.

The electricity -- and rally towel waving -- returned to Citizens Bank Park this weekend as the Phillies took full advantage of four games with the former wild-card leading and currently lifeless Milwaukee Brewers.

Brett Myers fired a dominating, complete game and Pat Burrell ended an 18-game drought without a home run as the Phils beat the Brewers 6-1 in the second game of a doubleheader -- and completed a four-game sweep -- before 39,776 raucous fans at Citizens Bank Park.

Ryan Howard slugged his major league-leading 44th home run and Joe Blanton recovered from a pair of long balls in the first game, a 7-3 win.

"We swept New York at this time last year," Jayson Werth said. "Hopefully this will give us a (similar) boost."

In the span of four days, the Phillies moved from four back of the Brewers into a tie atop the wild-card race. But Charlie Manuel's crew is in the thick of two races, thanks to another bullpen gone bad in New York.

In between the Phillies two games, the Atlanta Braves turned a 4-3, ninth-inning deficit into a 7-4 win over the Mets. The Phils, who are off today before beginning a three-game series in Atlanta Tuesday, moved one game back of New York.

The Phillies have won 10 of their last 15 and improved to a season-best 16 games over .500, bringing back memories of last September when

they overcame a seven-game deficit with 17 games to go to overtake the Mets.

The Phillies play their final 12 games against the also-rans of the National League East - six with Atlanta and three each with Florida and Washington.

"They realize what we have to do and how hard it is to go get it," Manuel said in between games of tracking down a playoff spot. "I think our core players that we're on our team last year, they know how hard it is to win. Winning is never easy."

The Phillies sure made it look simple against the hapless Brew crew.

Myers, the Phillies Opening Day starter-turned-minor league makeover, pitched arguably his best game of the season. Despite starting for the first time in four years on three days of rest, Myers took a no-hitter in the fourth and a shutout into the seventh.

"I was kind of waiting to see what we were going to get, what kind of stuff he was going to have," Manuel said of Myers pitching on short rest. "I think he past that test."

Ray Durham's fourth-inning single and Prince Fielder's seventh-inning, solo home run were the only blemishes on Myers' final line. The rebuilt right-hander continued his maturation into an ace, retiring 26 of the 29 batters he faced.

Myers allowed two hits and one walk while striking out four and needed only 95 pitches in an efficient nine innings.

"They were really aggressive (and) not only that, but I wasn't really looking for the strikeouts tonight that I'm accustomed to looking for, I wasn't trying to punch them out with stuff," Myers said of preserving his pitches. "I wasn't trying to get deep into counts because I knew that I needed to keep my pitch count down."

The streaking Phils broke out the bats early in support of Myers.

Jimmy Rollins hit a double and scored in the first and laced a two-run single an inning later. Shane Victorino (4-for-4) singled in the first and double in the fourth to help the Phils push across runs in both innings.

Myers also joined in on the fun. After the Brewers opted to intentionally walk Chris Coste in the second, giving the Phillies two runners on with two outs, Myers ripped an RBI single to right off Brewers starter Jeff Suppan.

It was Myers' first RBI since May 30, 2006.

Myers wasn't done contributing on offense, however. After moving up to second on a wild pitch, Myers scurried home from second on Rollins' two-run single to center, sliding just ahead of catcher Jason Kendall's tag to put the Phils up 4-0.

"Maybe they'll think twice about walking the guy in front of me," Myers said, jokingly.

Myers was the second hitter to make the Brewers pay for an intentional walk Sunday. In the first game, slumping slugger Pat Burrell watched Milwaukee manager Ned Yost flash four fingers at reliever Brian Shouse.

After Chase Utley laid down an unexpected sacrifice bunt to move Jayson Werth to second, the Brewers opted to walk Howard. Not a terrible decision, given Howard's hot bat and Burrell's struggles.

But Yost opted to leave in Shouse, a lefty, to face the right-handed hitting Burrell, despite a six pack of right-handers in the bullpen.

Burrell made Ned and the Brewers pay, smashing an 0-1 pitch to left to knock in Werth with the go-ahead run.

With Shouse still rotting on the mound, Victorino followed Burrell by turning a one-run game into one Brad Lidge appearance away from a victory by launching a three-run homer to left-center.

"That part was a little..." Victorino said, his voice trailing off in the end, of Yost's decision to leave in the lefty. "I'm sure (Eric) Gagne wanted to come in the game and face Pat, face myself. (But) maybe Ned had something different in his mind."

While Shouse has held fellow lefties to a .211 average this year, right-handers came into the game hitting .304 off him.

"You have to go against the grain at times, and I don't know if that's what his decision was... it's none of my business," said Burrell, who ended an eight-game drought without an RBI with the clutch hit. "All a player can control is going up there and trying to have a good at-bat. It worked out."

Burrell entered Sunday hitting .250, the lowest his average has been since the second game of the season. In the 38 games between Aug. 1 and Sunday, Burrell was batting .172.

"It's big, I can't lie - I needed to get a hit in that situation," Burrell said after the first game. "I've been struggling. I really haven't been contributing much at all.

"So to be in that situation where they pitch around Howard, and to be able to help us win, it's important. Hopefully it's a sign for things to come and hopefully I can keep swinging the bat."

Burrell's new-found confidence carried over into Sunday night. His walk started a three-run second inning and his solo home run began a two-run fourth.

"The pieces of the puzzle are starting to connect," fellow outfielder Werth said of a lineup that's beginning to get gel at the right time. "We have to keep going a little bit and hopefully we can continue to play good baseball."

Visit Ryan Lawrence's Phillies blog at: http://www3.allaroundphilly.com/blogs/delcotimes/ryanl/blog.html

comments powered by Disqus