PHILADELPHIA -- The rest of the team is taking the bus to New York.
Jacoby Ellsbury might just sprint alongside.
The Boston Red Sox leadoff man reached base five times and stole a club-record five bases in Thursday night's 9-2 win over the Philadelphia Phillies, giving the teams a split of their home-and-home, four-game interleague series.
When Ellsbury wasn't running, the Sox were slugging, as Jonny Gomes hit a pinch-hit home run in the sixth, and David Ortiz, playing at first base for the first time this season, hit his ninth of the season to extend the 4-2 lead the Sox held after the first inning.
Left-hander Franklin Morales gave up a two-run home run to Delmon Young in the first but held the Phillies to a single over the next four innings to earn the victory in his first appearance of 2013, having missed the team's first 52 games with a bulging disk in his back, followed by a strained pectoral muscle.
Morales stepped in to start when Clay Buchholz was pushed back from Friday to Sunday and Thursday's scheduled starter, Jon Lester, was slotted into Friday night's start in the Bronx against the New York Yankees. Morales was backed up by a collaborative effort by four Sox relievers -- Craig Breslow, Clayton Mortensen, Junichi Tazawa and Andrew Bailey -- who held the Phillies to two hits the rest of the way.
In each of the four games against the Phillies, Ellsbury led off the first inning with a base hit and came around to score, the purest possible definition of jump-starting a team's offense. Thursday night, he singled off Phillies starter Jonathan Pettibone, took third on a single by Daniel Nava, and scored on an infield out by Dustin Pedroia, who brought home Ellsbury with the team's first run all four nights.
Ellsbury walked and stole second in the second, singled and stole second in the fourth, was hit by a pitch in the sixth and stole second and third, then singled in the eighth, stole second and took third on a throwing error by Phillies catcher Erik Kratz. Oddly, none of the stolen bases resulted in a run scored but made for a long night for Kratz.
Ellsbury leads the majors with 21 stolen bases; in 2009, when he led the majors with a club-record 70 stolen bases, he stole his 21st base on May 27, in the team's 47th game. The Sox have played 55 games so far in 2013. Ellsbury has been caught just twice in 23 attempts this season for a 91.3 percent success rate. In 2009, he had been caught six times by the time he stole his 21st base.
Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia had been the one exploited on the bases the night before, when the Phillies stole safely four times. Thursday night, Saltalamacchia erased Domonic Brown attempting to steal in the first inning and also hit two RBI doubles.
The Sox tacked on three more runs in the eighth after scoring a total of four runs the past two nights against the Phils.
The Sox head into the Bronx and a three-game series with a two-game lead in the AL East -- their biggest since May 6 -- against the Bombers. The Yankees have lost a season-high five in a row after being swept in four games by their subway rivals, the Mets.
"I think through the first 50-plus games, I think both teams have answered questions. They've met challenges head on, personnel changes to the roster," Sox manager John Farrell said before the game. "I would expect [the series] to be not only a focal point, but one our guys are certainly looking forward to.
"I think we know about ourselves, which is most important to us: where guys slot in, how guys perform. We're going in there again not at full strength because of some injuries, but we haven't used that as a crutch, and the expectation stays the same regardless of who's in the lineup. That is, to win, and that is to hopefully win the division title."