Jun 16, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cole Hamels (35) pitches in the second inning against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Better late than never: Philadelphia Phillies defeat Atlanta Braves in 13 innings

The story of the night looked like it was going to be a familiar one: Cole Hamels pitched a great game, but thanks to a lack of run support and a leaky bullpen, he walked away without a win, and the team suffered another dispiriting loss.

That didn’t turn out to be the case. Sure, Hamels received his usual meager amount of run support while he was in the game. And yes, Jonathan Papelbon blew a save in the ninth inning. But thanks to strong work by the other relievers and a Phillies offense that finally woke up in the 13th inning, the Phillies came away with a 6-1 win over the Atlanta Braves.

Hamels was masterful. He pitched seven scoreless innings, upping his consecutive total to 23.2. In the seventh inning, the Braves loaded the bases with nobody out, but Hamels worked out of that jam thanks to a well-placed line drive out and a ground ball double play.

Jun 16, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard (6) celebrates a solo home run with left fielder Domonic Brown (9) in the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Unfortunately for him, the only run the Phillies managed was a solo home run by Ryan Howard in the second inning. After that, the Phillies weren’t able to do much of anything against Braves’ starter Julio Teheran.

In the ninth inning, Jonathan Papelbon showed why it’s dangerous for a pitcher to allow hitters to make contact. None of the three Braves hits were hit especially hard – a couple of seeing-eye grounders and a blooper – but when a pitcher can’t strike guys out as frequently, sometimes that’s going to happen. Those three hits led to a run, and the game went into extra innings.

Extra innings haven’t been especially kind to the Phillies this season, mostly because their bullpen has been shaky for much of the year. But there’s been a noticeable improvement over the past few weeks and that continued last night. Justin De Fratus, Mario Hollands, and Antonio Bastardo shut the Braves out for four innings, giving the Phillies’ offense a chance to get something going.

In the 13th, the offense finally came through. Thanks in part to an error by Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman, as well as a two-run double by the increasingly less-awful Reid Brignac, the Phillies opened up a five-run lead that would stand the test of time.

It’s a shame that despite pitching insanely well over the past month, Hamels has few wins to show for it. Hopefully he can at least take solace that the Phillies have at least won his past three starts, because it looks like that’s the best he’s going to get this season.

 

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