Baseball / Sports

Phillies get three runs in ninth, top Padres

PHILADELPHIA -- Tony Gwynn Jr., pinch-hitting for Cole Hamels after eight pristine innings of shutout baseball, issued a most fitting tribute Wednesday. San Diego righthander Joaquin Benoit, just inserted into the game, fired a 95-mph fastball. Gwynn attacked it.

The ball sailed into foul territory. It landed in Padres third baseman Chase Headley's glove for a quick out. Hamels had nothing to show for an outstanding effort on a night when both teams tried their hardest to lose.

Someone had to win, and when Reid Brignac destroyed a Nick Vincent slider, the Phillies could boast a positive streak for the first time in three weeks. Brignac bashed a game-winning, three-run homer in the ninth for a 3-0 win at Citizens Bank Park.

The Phillies had not won consecutive games since a three-game streak from May 17-20. They won a series for the second time in seven tries. Hamels, who has a 162/3-inning scoreless streak, was rendered a no-decision despite his great start.

The game was played through a constant mist, and neither team generated much excitement for the first eight innings. The ninth-inning rally developed when Domonic Brown walked and Carlos Ruiz was plunked on the hand by a Vincent pitch.

Brignac crushed his first homer of the season and the 12th of his seven-year career.

Few Phillies have prospered in this charmless season. Hamels, who missed the first 20 games with biceps tendinitis, is one. By dominating a desolate wasteland that is San Diego's lineup, he lowered his ERA to 3.07.

His last seven starts have yielded a 1.78 ERA with 56 strikeouts and just 15 walks in 502/3 innings.

Hamels has embraced the heavy workload. He asked to start Wednesday to remain on his regular fifth day. No game Monday would have allowed Hamels to receive an extra day's rest had he stayed in turn. Instead, the Phillies flipped him with Kyle Kendrick, who will start Thursday's series finale.

The lefthander has thrown 115 pitches or more in three straight starts, something he has never done before. Hamels' previous two outings before Wednesday were each 125 pitches. He showed no signs of wear; his fastball reached 93 mph in the eighth inning.

Hamels, as usual, received no support. The Phillies have scored three or fewer runs in six of Hamels' 10 starts this season. They matched zeros with San Diego, which ranks last in every major offensive category. The Padres threatened in the middle innings. Hamels, who has a lifetime 2.21 ERA against his hometown team, never broke.

The Phillies stranded a runner on third in the first and fifth innings. Jimmy Rollins singled with one out in the first to climb within three hits of breaking Mike Schmidt's franchise record.

He fouled a ball off his knee before the single, and limped around first base. But that did not stop Rollins from stealing second. Then, when he noticed no Padres player covered third, he pulled a Johnny Damon and swiped third on the same play. He never moved from there.

Ruiz slapped a single up the middle to begin the fifth. He stole second. Brignac struck out. Hamels grounded out. Ben Revere lined a harmless one to center. Even when San Diego gifted the Phillies a leadoff runner in the sixth with an error, Chase Utley tapped into a double play. It was not the finest of nights for hitting.

Marlon Byrd struck out four times. Ryan Howard whiffed with two runners on in the eighth inning. Both Byrd (74) and Howard (82) sit atop the major-league leaders for strikeouts with the Upton brothers from Atlanta.

What fans remained through the persistent mist booed Byrd in the ninth. The anger turned to cheers when Brignac swatted a meatball.

(c)2014 The Philadelphia Inquirer

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