Sports

Rollins, Philadelphia extend wild-card lead

PHILADELPHIA - Jimmy Rollins is at his best in the biggest games.

Rollins hit a three-run homer, Joe Blanton pitched neatly into the seventh and the Philadelphia Phillies beat the San Francisco Giants, 8-2, on Wednesday.

The two-time NL champions have won 20 out of 25 games and moved two games ahead of the Giants in the wild-card race.

“When there’s a lot of focus on our team, Jimmy rises,” manager Charlie Manuel said. “This is when Jimmy likes to play, or it seems that way.”

Andres Torres and Pat Burrell homered for the Giants, who have lost three in a row.

Blanton (5-6) allowed two runs and eight hits, striking out seven in 6 innings.

Rollins singled, tripled and homered off Matt Cain (9-10). He flied out against Jeremy Affeldt in the seventh and grounded out against Guillermo Mota in the eighth as he failed to hit a double for the cycle.

The Phillies have had two players hit for the cycle in the past 47 years — Gregg Jefferies (1995) and David Bell (2004).

“The last couple of days, I felt better,” said Rollins, who missed 54 games this season with a calf injury. “My hitting area is starting to come to me. It doesn’t feel like the plate is in the other batter’s box.”

Pinch-hitter Domonic Brown blasted a solo homer into the second deck in right with two outs in the eighth, earning the rookie a curtain call from the sellout crowd.

Cain gave up five runs — two earned — and seven hits in six innings.

Burrell cut it to 5-2 in the sixth with his 12th homer in 58 games with the Giants.

“We’re not scoring a lot of runs,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “We’ve got to get our offense going. There’s a lot of baseball left.”

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