MILWAUKEE -- There was thought, Ryne Sandberg said, to give Roberto Hernandez a shot at his first complete game in almost a year. The Philadelphia sinkerballer limited Milwaukee to one run in eight innings on 84 pitches. He attacked an aggressive lineup that has occupied first place for 92 straight days only to stumble in recent days.
But the Phillies manager wanted his $50 million closer, Jonathan Papelbon, a chance at his 22nd save. Papelbon sealed a 4-1 win over the Brewers with nine pitches for his third save in three nights.
Then, moments after the brisk 2-hour, 15-minute game, Papelbon indicated his desire to pitch for a contender.
"Some guys want to stay on a losing team? That's mind-boggling to me," Papelbon said. "I think that's a no-brainer."
When asked if Papelbon's limited no-trade clause would be an issue, he shook his head. He said he had not yet expressed that to the front office. Papelbon could not say whether he would still be with the Phillies after the trade deadline because he doesn't "have that crystal eight-ball."
The Phillies have attempted to trade Papelbon for more than a year. He is an expensive hood ornament for a team staring at a third straight October without postseason baseball. High-paid closers are anachronistic in this game, although there are teams like San Francisco and Detroit with uncertain ninth-inning situations.
Does he hope a team emerges to rescue him from the losing?
"Yes and no," Papelbon said. "You know, I came here for a reason ... and I say that because I'm with a group of guys in the bullpen that can do very special things in the future. I've been waiting for that, you know what I mean. It's fun to be a part of that, it really is. We are there finally with our bullpen. So that aspect of it would kind of 1/8stink3/8 to leave. But at the same time, winning is the cure-alls of cure-alls."
The Phillies won Wednesday because of Hernandez, who threw his best start of the season. He allowed three hits in eight innings.
"That was impressive," Sandberg said.
It is a small consolation prize at this juncture, when three straight wins against a slumping Brewers team with the best record in the National League represent a brief detour from the dismantling that could soon arrive for these Phillies, who are 11 games under .500.
Hernandez would have pitched the ninth had the Phillies padded their lead by one or two more runs.
"I thought about it," Sandberg said. "Other than that, he did his job. Just let Papelbon have a fresh start."
Hernandez was never tested by a Brewers lineup that did not include Ryan Braun or Jonathan Lucroy. He threw 64 pitches in six innings. He retired the side in the seventh on seven pitches, and needed just 13 in the eighth.
The lone Milwaukee run scored in the second inning because Ben Revere's arm does not threaten the opposition. Lyle Overbay cracked a broken-bat single up the middle. Aramis Ramirez, standing near second, froze. The 36-year-old third baseman is one of the game's slower runners. Even with a delayed start, Milwaukee third-base coach Ed Sedar waved on Ramirez.
Revere's throw two-hopped the catcher, Cameron Rupp, who had to scurry up the third-base line to fetch it.
The Phillies' double-play tandem smashed home runs to support Hernandez. Chase Utley lashed his second in three nights -- a laser to right field in the first inning. Jimmy Rollins broke an 0 for 20 skid with a two-run blast in the sixth inning. That was the 23d time both Utley and Rollins homered in the same game.
Those hits permitted Papelbon another chance in the ninth. But if a contender expresses a desire for Papelbon in the coming weeks, the closer is ready to leave.
"Yeah," Papelbon said. He laughed.
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