Baseball / Sports

Aumont tapped by late Mets blast

PHILADELPHIA -- Phillippe Aumont, the 20th Phillies pitcher in 54 games, awoke Sunday in Durham, N.C., but pitched the 11th inning at Citizens Bank Park. He walked 21 batters in 24 innings at triple-A Lehigh Valley. The previous two days had sapped the Phillies bullpen, so Aumont was thrown into what turned out to be a 4-3 Phillies loss.

"I think I figured some things out," Aumont said Sunday morning after he unpacked his bags. "I feel much more comfortable. I'm not saying it's perfect. But it's getting there."

He retired the first two Mets he faced. He issued a two-out walk to Travis d'Arnaud, who had a .268 on-base percentage before Sunday. Then Lucas Duda crushed a 1-0 sinker to the center-field seats. Aumont, summoned as a reinforcement, was no savior.

This latest slap fight between the Phillies and Mets should not have fallen into Aumont's hands. The Phillies, now a season-high six games under .500 at 24-30, demonstrated more stunning failures at the fundamentals.

The season is one-third completed. There is no end to the Phillies' mediocrity, and the lackluster Mets have a way of exposing their worst qualities.

"That's a frustrating part of it," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "Close games, extra-inning games, oftentimes you can look back at a play here or there just to get the job done. That's frustrating."

These two teams have combined for 14 hours, 24 minutes of baseball in three days. Their pitchers threw a total of 1,262 pitches in those 39 innings. They continued down the mind-numbing path Sunday.

No National League team has used more pitchers than the Phillies, who replenished their worn staff with Aumont and Cesar Jimenez. Sandberg squeezed 125 pitches from Cole Hamels. He did not have Mike Adams, Jake Diekman, Antonio Bastardo, or Mario Hollands.

Aumont -- after Jimenez, Jonathan Papelbon, and Justin De Fratus tossed scoreless innings -- was the last man standing.

"I still had the jitters a little bit," Aumont said. "I was excited. But I'm not going to let one outing affect me."

Neither lineup could hit with runners in scoring position. The Phillies' seventh inning threat was extinguished by Domonic Brown, who committed an unforgivable baserunning mistake. Cesar Hernandez reached on a bunt single. He advanced to second on a successful (no, really) sacrifice bunt by Reid Brignac. Brown pinch-hit for Hamels, and laced a single to left.

Third-base coach Pete Mackanin ordered Hernandez to stop at the last possible moment. Brown, who did not sprint to first, thought the throw from left field was headed home. He went for second. The Mets caught him between bases. A chance to have runners on first and third with one out -- meaning a fly ball would put the Phillies ahead -- was eliminated by Brown's carelessness.

"I thought the throw was going over his head," Brown said. "I should have stayed in the rundown longer. I thought it was the right read."

"He was thinking there was a play at the plate," Sandberg said. "As you get to the bag and round it, you pick up and see what's happening over at third base."

Ben Revere tapped one back to the pitcher. Hernandez never moved. The next 10 Phillies made outs before Marlon Byrd's 11th-inning solo homer.

The Mets tied the game in the sixth on flounders in the field. After Eric Campbell doubled, Jimmy Rollins misfired to first on a grounder. Campbell scored on a sacrifice fly.

The Phillies are 1-7 when Hamels starts. The lefty declined to speak to reporters after the game.

Jon Niese did not expend much energy on the Phillies; he threw just 27 pitches through three innings.

Byrd broke his bat when he swung and missed at a Niese fastball. He stood incredulously at home plate with the knob in his hand. Three pitches later, he struck out. The failures are more unbelievable by the day.

(c)2014 The Philadelphia Inquirer

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