Kevin McAlpin covers the Phillies for 97.5 The Fanatic.  You can follow him on Twitter (@KevinMcAlpin)

Brian Schneider said he knew it was gone off the bat last night as the Phillies won a wild extra-innings contest in the series opener against the Reds.  Schneider's walk off home run in the twelfth inning gave the Phillies a 4-3 win after Brad Lidge blew his third save in his last four chances in the ninth.  One day removed from controversial comments about Phillies fans, Shane Victorino was three-for-four and tied a career high in home runs with his 14th.  "We're looking for anything to get going," said Manuel.  "A win helps.  The baseball Gods may have been looking over us." 

Trailing the Braves by five-and-a-half games the Phillies hand the ball to Joe Blanton (3-5, 6.27) tonight in the second of four at Citizen Bank Park.  Blanton has pitched at least six innings in each of his last four starts, but is coming off a less than stellar outing Sunday at Pittsburgh where he gave up five runs on six hits over six-and-a-third.  After allowing two first inning runs, Blanton hadn't allowed a hit until things unraveled in the seventh, en route to a six run inning for the Buckos.  In three career starts against the Reds, Blanton is 2-0 with a 3.92 ERA. 

Cincinnati counters with their 22 year old rookie Mike Leake (6-1, 3.38) who was tagged for six runs and seven hits by the Phillies on June 29 in Cincinnati.  Both Brian Schneider and Wilson Valdez took Leake deep as the Phillies won a wild game where they blew a three run ninth inning lead, only to score three in the 10th and win 9-6.  The Reds are 10-6 in Leake's 15 starts this season, however the half of those losses were by just one run.  With his home run in the first inning last night, All-Star Joey Votto now has 22 on the season, good for first in the NL and ties him with Josh Hamilton for second place in the Majors.

As of late, the Phillies have been a second-half team.  With 78 games left on the schedule, being five-and-a-half games out of first is far from catastophic.  Yesterday, Charlie Manuel said he felt that the Phillies have a big run in them, and that he'd be "suprised if they didn't."  A strong finish this weekend, heading toward the All-Star break could help swing the momentum the right direction.  "We want to finish strong," sid Kyle Kendrick.  "It'd be great to win all four of these and go in to the All Star Break feeling good.  Hopefully we can take care of business tomorrow."

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