Phillies Pull Out Dramatic Win Over Bucs


2. 4. 3. 6. Final

The Phillies (12-23) pulled out a rare exciting victory, using a tremendous starting pitching outing from Cole Hamels and then a fabulous, game-ending defensive gem from Jeff Francoeur to gain a 3-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates (17-17) at chilly Citizens Bank Park.

The Bucs drew first blood, scoring a pair in the top of the 5th. Neil Walker and Jordy Mercer led off with base hits off Hamels, and pitcher Francisco Liriano sacrificed them over to 2nd and 3rd respectively. Josh Harrison was hit by a pitch that bounced up into his leg to load the bases. Then with two outs, Andrew McCutchen delivered a 2-run single to center field, putting Pittsburgh up 2-0.

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The Phils came right back in their half of the 5th, scoring 3 times to take the lead. Francoeur and Cesar Hernandez led off with singles, and Carlos Ruiz doubled to bring home Frenchy with the first Phillies run. Then with one out, a Ben Revere ground out to 2nd allowed Hernandez to score the tying run. Freddy Galvis then looped an rbi single to right, scoring Chooch with the go-ahead run.

Hamels (3-3) and Liriano (1-3) each got their teams through 7 innings with solid outings. Hamels was a little better,  allowing just 5 hits and a walk, striking out 9, throwing 78 strikes in his 115 pitches. Liriano allowed 7 hits and 3 walks, striking out 6.

With Hamels pulled holding the 3-2 lead, things looked good, even though the game was far from over. The Phillies have been 9-0 in games where they have scored at least 3 runs while Cole was on the mound dating back to last season.

Ken Giles came on to pitch the setup 8th, allowing a hit but striking out a batter, and the lead was turned over to Jonathan Papelbon for the Save. If he were able to nail it down, not only would it give Hamels a well-earned win, but it would make Paps the Phillies all-time career Saves leader, breaking a tie with Jose Mesa.

Frenchy’s last throw, right on the money…He’s got the arm so, just took an accurate throw. I knew he’d have enough on it, and it was right on the money.” ~ Sandberg, on Francoeur’s game-winning throw

Papelbon didn’t make it easy on himself, walking leadoff man Francisco Cervelli to put the tying run on base. Pirates manager Clint Hurdle then replaced Cervelli with pinch-runner Steve Lombardozzi.

Papelbon bore down and struck out Walker for the first out, but then again hurt himself by throwing a pickoff attempt away at first. The ball rolled all the way out into foul territory in right field, and Lombardozzi flew all the way to 3rd base, putting the tying run just 90 feet away with one out.

The batter during that pickoff attempt was Mercer, and with Papelbon’s attention back on him, Mercer lofted a fly ball out to right field. In many situations, this would be a near-automatic game-tying sacrifice fly. But this was not most situations. The Phils had Francoeur in right.

Francoeur came in on the ball, moving directly over the right field foul line, and as the ball dropped into his glove, Lombardozzi tug and took off for the plate. Francoeur then uncoiled the right arm that he has used as a defensive weapon throughout his 11-year MLB career.

Francoeur is the current active leader in career Assists for a right fielder. He has led his league 5 times, and been 2nd in his league another 3 times. He has a legit gun out there, and he gunned a frozen rope to Ruiz, who turned and applied a nice tag just as Lombardozzi began to slide. Bang! Game over.

Ryne Sandberg on the game-ending throw by Franceour: “Frenchy’s last throw, right on the money,” said the skipper. “The way that he was coming in, the right guy out there, no question about it. He’s got the arm so, just took an accurate throw. I knew he’d have enough on it, and it was right on the money.

So now Jonathan Papelbon is the Phillies all-time Saves leader. He is also the Red Sox all-time leader, making Paps just the 2nd pitcher in MLB history to hold such a distinction. Cole Hamels got his record even at 3-3, and gets to feel good about his outing.

Tomorrow afternoon in the final game of this 4-game Keystone State Series, Aaron Harang will take the mound for the Phillies, and the Pirates will send ex-Phil Vance Worley out, as the Fightin’ Phils look for the split.