Cole Hamels pitched eight great innings, but it was not enough as the San Fransisco Giants rallied for two runs in the ninth to stun the Phillies Thursday night in Philly's 2-1 loss.
Hamels (4-13) and opposing starter Matt Cain (7-6) both came out dealing, matching zeroes over their first four innings. Hamels ran into a bit of trouble in the fourth with men on the corners with one out, but managed to strike out Brett Pill before striking out Jeff Francoeur to end the inning. Cain was perfect through three and allowed just one hit in a scoreless top of the fourth.
The Phillies broke through in the fifth when Carlos Ruiz and Laynce Nix hit consecutive singles with two outs. Hamels, batting ninth, blooped a high breaking ball from Cain into left, scoring Nix. Hamels did get caught in a rundown to end the inning, but that was his only real mistake on a night where he was simply locked in.
Things were quiet the next few innings as both pitchers continued to deal before the Phillies threatened in the seventh inning. Darin Ruf led off with a walk and was replaced by Michael Martinez, who stole second after Cody Asche flew out to center. John Mayberry, Jr. then hit a single into left and Martinez came around to score, but was thrown out by Francoeur for the second out before Ruiz grounded out to end the inning.
In the eighth, Jimmy Rollins reached on a one-out triple to right, but Michael Young grounded into a fielder’s choice to Joaquin Arias at short, and Arias threw Rollins out at home. Chase Utley lined out to end the eighth.
Jonathan Papelbon was brought in to relieve Hamels, who threw 113 pitches in his eight innings, but things started to go wrong for him, and the Phillies, FAST.
Papelbon allowed four straight batters to reach with no outs, starting when Hunter Pence beat out an infield single to shortstop to lead off the inning. Brett Pill followed with a single, moving Pence to third, before Roger Kieschnick, pinch-hitting for Francoeur, singled to right to plate Pence and tie the game at one-apiece. Joaquin Arias then singled to left to score Pill and give San Fransisco a 2-1 lead before Papelbon settled down enough to finish the inning.
Sergio Romo was then handed the ball for the ninth for the Giants. He was set up to face a weak bottom-half of the order for the Phillies, but he too ran into trouble as the Phillies nearly came back. Nearly.
Delmon Young, pinch hitting for Michael Martinez, hit a ball just under the glove of Arias, who moved to third for the inning, to lead things off, and was pinch-run for by John McDonald. Cody Asche bunted right back to the pitcher’s mound, and Romo initially fielded the ball cleanly before slipping and falling to the ground, letting both runners advance safely. Mayberry came up to bunt and was hit by Romo, loading the bases with nobody out. It looked like the kind of break that the Phillies needed (though maybe not deserved).
The rally ended there, though, as Nix and Ruiz both flew out, failing to advance the runners on the shallow-playing Giants outfielders. Erik Kratz, batting for Papelbon, had a chance to drive in the wininng runs with two outs, but he grounded into a fielder’s choice to third, and Mayberry was thown out for the final out.
It was borderline tragic to watch the Phillies lose the game when Hamels did everything possible to get them the win. He drove in their only run, and allowed none on seven hits and a walk over eight innings. Matt Cain, named player of the game afterwards, pitched very well, too, but Hamels literally did everything for the Phils tonight. Hamels is seventh worst in team run support at 3.17 runs/game, and even that feels a bit high, to be honest. The Phillies can’t hit, but they really can’t hit when Hamels starts.
Papelbon was off from the start, and part of the problem he’s been having, as Tom McCarthy and Chris Wheeler noted, is that he doesn’t really have swing and miss stuff anymore; its hard to be an elite closer when your fastball averages about 91-92 mph and your secondary pitches are average, at best.
The Phillies stay home to start a weekend series against the Braves Friday night. Atlanta’s Kris Medlen will be opposed by the newly-called-up Ethan Martin, who had previously been pitching in Triple-A.