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Phils' Rolen flashes talent
If pending free agent Scott Rolen is auditioning for a lucrative contract from the Cubs, he didn't exactly hurt his cause Tuesday.
Rolen hammered a game-winning three-run homer off Kyle Farnsworth in Philadelphia's 7-4 victory over the Cubs.
Farnsworth thought he might have struck out Rolen on a 2-2 slider in the seventh inning that crossed the plate near Rolen's knees.
"But I can't blame it on that," he said. "It was one of those things."
Farnsworth then fired a belly-high fastball that Rolen ripped into the left-field bleachers.
"It's kind of hard to catch up with a 97 mile-per-hour fastball when it's up," Farnsworth said, "but he's a good fastball hitter and he guessed right."
For his part, Rolen said the 2-2 pitch "wasn't even close.
It was down."
And as for guessing fastball, Rolen saw no shame in that.
"When a guy throws 95-96 [m.p.h.]," he said, "you can't look for anything else."
Rolen, who said last week he would strongly consider an offer from the Cubs, fended off an attempt to speculate whether fans at Wrigley Field will throw back his home-run balls next season.
"You're trying to bait me," he told a Philadelphia reporter.
What else is there to do on a late July day when both teams remain miles from a pennant race?
The Cubs had a golden chance Tuesday to improve to 9-3 since the All-Star break. They took a 4-3 lead in the fifth on Sammy Sosa's RBI double and Roosevelt Brown's run-scoring single.
But the Phillies tied it in the sixth after Matt Clement walked Mike Lieberthal, gave up an infield single to Marlon Anderson and allowed pinch-hitter Jeremy Giambi to line a single to right.
Clement had thrown more than 100 pitches through six innings and was due up second in the seventh, but manager Bruce Kimm left him in the game.
Clement struck out the first two batters he faced in the seventh before hitting Pat Burrell on a 1-2 pitch. Then Travis Lee bounced a single through the right side.
With Rolen coming up, Kimm called for Farnsworth, saying he wanted a "fresh arm."
Said Clement: "I would have loved to have gotten the chance to face Scott, but Bruce is the manager and I give him credit for letting me go out there in the seventh."
When Farnsworth didn't get a favorable call on his 2-2 slider, it should not have come as a major surprise.
Home-plate umpire Kerwin Danley's strike zone appeared tight.
"I really didn't feel like I was throwing the balls over the backstop or anything," said Clement, who walked four batters. "I guess I was just missing. It's tough to adjust sometimes [to different umpires]."
Rolen didn't need to adjust. He sat on a fastball from Farnsworth and cranked it out for his 16th home run.
"That was a great at-bat from Rolen," Kimm said.
Perhaps he'll get the chance to admire the third baseman on a regular basis next year.