Javier Lopez grazed Chase Utley with a pitch, forcing in the lead run in the top of the tenth inning, and the Philadelphia Phillies went on to defeat the San Francisco Giants, 5-3, Friday night, in the opener of a three-game set. The Giants held a 3-1 lead going into the eighth on a three-run home run by Michael Morse, but Cody Asche tied it up with a two-run home run, off of Jeremy Affeldt.
Cole Hamels started for the Phillies and went seven innings, giving up three runs on nine hits, with five strike outs and two walks. In his last five starts, Hamels had not allowed more than one run, two of the outings shutouts, and had a 0.73 ERA in those five starts. When he left the game, the Giants held a 3-1 lead.
Madison Bumgarner, trying to make a quality appearance at AT&T Park for the first time in more than two months, started for the Giants and went seven innings, giving up one run on four hits, with nine strikeouts and no walks. He began the game by retiring the first ten batters, before giving up a flair to right field and a flair to left field, to put runners at first and second with one out.
The Giants then got a lucky break when Jimmy Rollins tried to steal third off of Bumgarner, who was alerted by Posey and flipped a high throw to Pablo, who simultaneously managed to block third base with his foot, and bring a tag down on the head of the sliding Rollins. He was called out and an Instant Replay Review upheld the call.
The Giants responded immediately, with Buster Posey leading off the bottom of the fourth with a single, Pablo Sandoval following with a ground-rule double, and Michael Morse rocketing a ball over the left-center filed wall for a 3-1 lead.
Morse has endured a fair amount of criticism this season for his lack of range in left field. A play occurred in the top of the fourth, just after Jimmy Rollins had gotten the Phillies’ first hit of the game, that illustrated this point. Chase Utley hit a flair that ended up dropping in front of the onrushing Morse.
The ball looked like a catchable ball for a player fleet of foot, but that does not describe Morse. As Mike Krukow quipped, “…he’s [Morse]not there for his defense, really. He’s there to BANG…hit balls out of the park.”
The play proved irrelevant when Jimmy Rollins was thrown out trying to steal third and Ryan Howard struck out swinging to end the threat. And Krukow looked pretty good at the top of the very next inning, when Morse followed Posey’s single and Pablo’s double with a shot over the left-center field wall for his sixteenth home run of the season, to go with his 55 RBI’s.
We saw a little bit of what Joe Panik is made of in tonight’s game, when Cole Hamels came in high and tight with a fastball, sending Panik to the deck. He stood up and sighted down his bat at Hamels and hit the next pitch into left field, sending Gregor Blanco, pinch-running for Morse, to third base. Every big-league player expects to get knocked down, but it’s a good sign that Panik could recover his composure quickly enough to connect on the next pitch for a solid base hit.
Bumgarner, who was having pitch-count problems, hitting 93 pitches after five innings, had a six-pitch sixth, and started the seventh inning by retiring Ryan Howard on a one-pitch fly ball to the newly inserted Gregor Blanco. He threw nine more pitches in completing seven full, striking out Byrd and getting Carlos Ruiz to ground out to third base.
Jeremy Affeldt came in to pitch the eighth and gave up an infield hit to Darin Ruf, and a two run home run to Cody Asche and just like that, the game was tied and Bumgarner’s chance for a win at AT&T Park was gone. It was the first home run that Affeldt has given up since June 18, 2013, against the San Diego Padres.
Matters got tense in the ninth, when Affeldt, inexplicably still in the game after a rough eighth in which he threw 21 pitches and gave up the lead, walked the leadoff batter, Chase Utley. When Howard came up and we were told he led the league in RBI’s against left-handed pitchers, I feared the worst, but Affeldt struck him out, the third time in the game that Howard had whiffed.
Santiago Casilla came on and after getting the second out of the inning on a fielder’s choice, walked Carlos Ruiz, giving the Phillies two base runners. Just as we were informed that the Milwaukee Brewers had scored five in the eighth to take a 5-2 lead on the Los Angeles Dodgers, Casilla wild-pitched the runners to second and third. Darin Ruf then grounded out to Sandoval at third to end the threat.
It all proved for nought as Javier Lopez came in to pitch the tenth after Casilla had given up a lead-off double to Cody Asche. He tried to get the lead runner when Grady Sizemore bunted, but ended up with runners at the corners and no one out. After a line-out to Pagan in center field, Lopez walked Jimmy Rollins and grazed Utley with a pitch to allow the lead run to score. Howard knocked in an insurance run, but it proved unnecessary as the Giants went meekly in the bottom of the tenth.
San Francisco not only lost the game, but the chance to pick up a full game on Los Angeles. The Dodgers remain five-and-a-half games ahead of the Giants in the standings. Tim Hudson goes for the Giants in tomorrow’s one o’clock start.