PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Darin Ruf circled the bases, eager to celebrate his first career homer with teammates only to get prolonged silent treatment in the dugout.
Welcome to the big leagues, kid.
Ruf, the Omaha Westside and Creighton product, homered for his first major league hit, Carlos Ruiz and Domonic Brown also went deep and the Philadelphia Phillies beat the playoff-bound Washington Nationals 6-3 Tuesday night.
Cole Hamels (16-6) overcame five shaky innings to set a career high in wins and keep the five-time defending NL East champions from losing ground in the playoff race. Hamels allowed three runs and seven hits, tying his shortest outing of the year.
Philadelphia remained 5½ games behind St. Louis for the second NL wild card spot. Milwaukee and the Los Angeles Dodgers also are ahead of the Phillies in the standings with eight games remaining.
The Nationals' magic number for winning the NL East remained at five because Atlanta beat Miami 4-3. Their lead over the Braves dropped to four games with eight left.
Ruf earned the nickname “Babe” by leading all minor leaguers with 38 homers this season, breaking Ryan Howard's single-season record at Class AA Reading.
He didn't take long to show his power stroke.
Ruf connected off Ross Detwiler, who pitched collegiately at Missouri State, in the second inning, turning on an inside pitch and hitting a towering drive to left-center. The rookie returned to the dugout to find quiet faces. Players held back smiles and ignored Ruf until the inning ended before congratulating him with high-fives.
“That was very loving of them,” Ruf said with a smile. “It's probably for all the times I suggested doing it to somebody in Double-A. I had it coming.”
Even the batboy was in on it.
“I tried to give the batboy a (fist) pound and he didn't acknowledge me,” Ruf said.
Manager Charlie Manuel enjoyed the scene.
“The batboy really blew him off,” he said. “He was looking for somebody to talk to him and he didn't even look at him.”
Manuel said “Baby Ruf” will be in the lineup again Wednesday.
“I like Ruf's swing,” he said. “I like the way he uses the whole field. I like the type hitter he is.”
Fans in left field gave Ruf a standing ovation when he jogged out to his position.
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