By Sam Bush

The mark of a good team is when they go on the road and maintain their winning ways.

Now, I am not saying the Phillies fall in that category — they still have a miserable record — but the road hasn’t stopped their recent success.

Cameron Rupp (above) hit the Phils’ fourth home run of the game, a leadoff shot in the 12th inning that lifted the Phillies to a 4-3 victory against the skidding San Diego Padres.

The Phillies (43-67) have won 14 of 19 since the All-Star break to tie Miami for fourth place in the NL East. The teams share the worst record in the majors.

Rupp drove a 90 mph fastball from Kevin Quackenbush (1-2) an estimated 416 feet to straightaway center field. It was his third of the season.

Domonic Brown, Ryan Howard and Cody Asche hit long home runs off Padres starter James Shields.

All the long balls traveled more than 400 feet.

”We’re not in Cincinnati or Baltimore, something like that,” Philadelphia interim manager Pete Mackanin said. ”Not to diminish the home run hitters on those teams. You’ve got to hit it to get it out of here.”

The Phillies have been swinging the bats better the last several weeks.

”We’re being aggressive,” Rupp said. ”We’re having good at-bats. When pitchers make mistakes, we’re ready for them.”

That’s what happened on his homer.

”I had two chances in that at-bat prior to that pitch, and I missed. He left one out over the plate and I was ready for it,” Rupp said.

The Padres have lost four straight and five of six.

”I didn’t want to walk him so I threw a pitch and he hit it over the fence. That was about it,” Quackenbush said.

Besides hitting better, ”We’re winning, too,” Rupp said. ”That changes how you come to the ballpark every day. It changes your approach at the plate. We’re having fun. Everything clicks and that’s the way it’s going right now.”

Hector Neris (2-0) pitched the 11th for the win. Ken Giles worked the 12th for his fourth save, allowing two broken-bat singles before striking out Jedd Gyorko to end it.

Shields blew a 3-0 lead and was pulled two batters after allowing Asche’s tying homer in the seventh. One of San Diego’s big offseason acquisitions, the right-hander has only one victory in his last 12 starts.

Brown hit a moonshot to right field with one out in the fourth. It was his fourth homer in 26 plate appearances after having zero in his previous 162.

Howard drove a ball an estimated 426 feet into the sandy play area beyond the fence in right-center with two outs in the sixth, his 19th.

Asche’s shot went 415 feet to right-center, his sixth.

It was the third time Shields allowed at least three homers in a game. He gave up four at Arizona on May 8.

Maikel Franco just missed clearing the left-field fence with a high, arcing fly in the sixth.

”I made three mistakes today and they took advantage of them,” Shields said. ”I thought I pitched pretty well. It’s been frustrating all year. We have been losing one-run ballgames a ton of times this year. We’ve got to be able to win those.”

Shields pitched well otherwise, striking out eight and walking one in 6 2-3 innings. He allowed three runs and six hits.

Phillies rookie Aaron Nola yielded three runs and six hits in six innings. He struck out six and walked two.

The Padres had a chance to take the lead in the seventh.Yangervis Solarte doubled into the right-field corner and was waved home by third base coach Glenn Hoffman on Justin Upton’s single to right, but was out by 10 feet on a throw by Brown.

Padres interim manager Pat Murphy challenged the call but it was upheld after a replay review. Murphy apparently thought Rupp blocked the plate.

San Diego took a 3-0 lead on an RBI single by Derek Norris in the second and a two-run triple by Upton in the third. Brown missed Upton’s fly ball as he was retreating toward the wall. Alexi Amarista and Solarte, aboard on consecutive singles, scored.


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