PHILADELPHIA — If Shane Victorino had been healthy 10 days ago, Red Sox manager John Farrell was prepared to hit him leadoff and drop Jacoby Ellsbury down in the batting order.
Ellsbury was struggling to get on base and had become a detriment to the offense. But without a suitable replacement, Farrell stuck with him.
Ellsbury isn’t moving any time soon, except around the bases. He had three hits, a walk, and a club-record five stolen bases on Thursday night as the Red Sox beat the Philadelphia Phillies, 9-2, before 40,083 at Citizens Bank Park.
The five steals were the most for a major league player since Tampa Bay’s Carl Crawford stole six bases against — you guessed it — the Red Sox on May 3, 2009.
Oddly, Ellsbury did not score after any of his steals. He also was hit by a pitch in the game.
Ellsbury was 0 for 4 against the White Sox May 20, grounding to second base four times and raising questions about whether he should stay atop the order. That dropped his batting average to .241 and his on-base percentage to .303.
Since then he is 16 of 40 (.400) with eight walks, six runs, and eight stolen bases.
Ellsbury’s 21 stolen bases (on 23 attempts) lead the majors. He is now hitting .268 with a .337 OBP.
The Sox split the four-game, home-and-home interleague series against the Phillies. With the Yankees getting swept by the Mets, the Sox take a two-game lead into the Bronx on Friday and the start of a three-game series against the rivals.
The Red Sox had 14 hits off four Philadelphia pitchers. Jarrod Saltalamacchia doubled twice and drove in three runs. Jose Iglesias was 2 for 5 with an RBI double. He is 9 of 23 since getting recalled from Triple A Pawtucket.
The Sox worked over Philadelphia rookie Jonathan Pettibone (3-1) for four runs in the first inning.
Ellsbury led off with a single to left and went to third when Daniel Nava singled to center. Ellsbury scored when Dustin Pedroia grounded to second.
It was the third straight game that Ellsbury reached in the first inning and was driven in by Pedroia. David Ortiz walked before Mike Carp slapped an RBI single to right field.
After Stephen Drew struck out, Saltalamacchia lined a double down the line in right field and two runs scored.
Pettibone did not give up another run. He went five innings, allowing six hits with four walks and five strikeouts.
Pettibone is the sixth rookie starter to face the Sox this season. They have combined to allow 26 earned runs over 22 innings and none pitched more than five innings. The Sox are 4-2 in those games.
The Sox built their lead to 6-2 on solo home runs by pinch hitter Jonny Gomes in the sixth inning and Ortiz in the seventh.
Gomes was a bit tardy leaving the batter’s box and pitcher Jeremy Horst drilled the next batter, Ellsbury, in the back with a fastball. Umpire Bill Miller then warned both teams against further retaliation.
Ellsbury stole second and third but did not score.
Ortiz hit a towering blast to right field off Horst for his ninth homer of the season. Since 2005, Ortiz has hit 20 home runs in 47 games and 171 at-bats as a first baseman.
Franklin Morales allowed two runs over five innings in his first appearance for the Sox since Aug. 22.
The lefthander ended last season on the disabled list with a shoulder injury and started this season sidelined with a back injury that occurred in spring training.
When Clay Buchholz was given some extra days off to deal with shoulder pain, Morales was given a start. He allowed a two-run homer by Delmon Young in the first inning but was otherwise strong.
The Phillies loaded the bases with one out in the fourth inning as Jimmy Rollins walked, Domonic Brown singled, and Kevin Frandsen walked.
When Erik Kratz hit the ball slowly to shortstop, Drew charged and made a quick feed to Pedroia despite being off balance. Frandsen wiped Pedroia out but he completed the double play to end the inning.
Morales gave up four hits with two walks and two strikeouts. He has allowed three earned runs in 14⅓ innings against the Phillies, all at Citizens Bank Park.
The Red Sox are 22-12 against the Phillies since 2004 and are 15-8 at Citizens Bank Park since 2005. The Sox do not play another interleague road series until a late August trip to San Francisco and Los Angeles.