Michael Martinez is tagged out at home plate during the seventh inning of the Phillies' 2-1 loss to the Giants. (USA Today Images)
Jonathan Papelbon had not saved a game since July 11 when he entered Thursday night’s game against the San Francisco Giants at Citizens Bank Park with a one-run lead.
By the time the bottom of the ninth rolled around, Papelbon still had not saved a game since the second week of July.
Papelbon blew his sixth save opportunity of the season and his sixth in his last 13 chances on Thursday night, taking a much-needed victory from starter Cole Hamels and serving it up for the Giants, 2-1.
For the Phillies, the loss was the second in a row to the Giants and the 10th in the 11 games since the All-Star break. At 50-58, the Phillies fell to 13½ games behind the first-place Braves in the NL East.
Starting pitching report
It was another hard-luck no-decision for Hamels, who pitched brilliantly for eight innings and set himself up for the win with an RBI single in the fifth inning.
Hamels scattered seven hits and a walk over eight innings. He struck out five and threw 113 pitches. After Buster Posey singled with two outs in the first, Hamels retired eight in a row and 12 out of 14. He also got out of a one-out jam in the fourth and held the Giants to just 1 for 6 with runners in scoring position.
For the Giants, Matt Cain also went eight innings, allowing just one run on six hits with two walks. Cain retired the first 11 hitters he faced and 14 of the first 15. He also had some good fielding on his side, too. Pinch-runner Michael Martinez was thrown out at the plate trying to score from second on a single to left by John Mayberry Jr. in the seventh and Jimmy Rollins was thrown out at the plate on a fielder’s choice.
Papelbon’s fastball topped out at 92-mph as he blew his sixth save since June 17. He allowed four hits and a walk in serving up two runs. The closer had three two-strike counts in which he gave up two singles and a walk.
Sergio Romo put the first three hitters he faced on base and managed to wiggle out of the jam. An error, bunt single and a hit batsman loaded the bases, but Romo got out of it with back-to-back shallow flyouts and a groundout to sew up his 25th save.
At the plate
Of the Phillies’ seven hits, four of them came from the bottom half of the order. Hamels had the only RBI on a bloop single in the fifth, which is fitting considering how little run support the lefty has received this year.
Hamels leads the majors with 13 losses this year mostly because of a dearth of run support. Headed into Thursday’s game, Hamels received just 3.38 runs of support per game, a total that ranked him 84th among the 92 starting pitchers to qualify.
The homestand continues on Friday when the first-place Atlanta Braves come to town for three games. Ethan Martin will make his big-league debut for the Phillies in Friday night’s game against right-hander Kris Medlen (7-10, 3.74).
Acquired in the trade that sent Shane Victorino to the Dodgers at the deadline last year, Martin went 11-5 with a 4.12 ERA in 21 starts for Triple A Lehigh Valley. Martin had 107 strikeouts in 115 2/3 innings.
The Phillies have not determined the rest of the rotation for the weekend. Cliff Lee would have pitched on Friday, but the neck strain that kept him from starting last Saturday in Detroit appears to still be an issue.
The Braves will send Brandon Beachy (0-0, 17.18) to the mound on Saturday afternoon with lefty Alex Wood (1-2, 3.51) pitching on Sunday night.