By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun
PHILADELPHIA–For eight innings, it was looking like another brilliant outing for Cole Hamels was going by the wayside because of another anemic performance by the Phillies offense, which only had more than two runners on base in just one inning prior to the bottom of the ninth.
Hamels had another gem of a night on the mound for the Phillies. In eight innings, he allowed no runs on five hits with a season-high 11 strikeouts and just one walk while throwing 115 pitches. He also moved past Jim Bunning in sole possession of third place on the Phillies all-time strikeout list.
Thanks to Reid Brignac’s walk-off three-run homer to right field in the bottom of the ninth, the Phillies came away with a 3-0 win over the San Diego Padres on a cool Wednesday night in front of 25,398 fans at Citizen’s Bank Park.
“(Hamels) was really sharp with his command, real good fast balls, changeups,” said Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg.“He’s looking real good and he’s had some good starts for us. ”
While Brignac’s heroics at the plate was definitely important, it was the Phillies pitching that kept the Padres off the scoreboard for the entire game. Closer Jonathan Papelbon got the win in relief, but it was Hamels’ efforts that laid the foundation for this win.
“Cole pitched outstanding tonight and really kept us in the game all night and kept their hitters off balance,” said Brignac, whose last walk-off homer came while he was a member of the Tampa Bay Rays. “He was the true winner in this game.”
On a night when the Phillies three, four, and five hitters—Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Marlon Byrd went a combined 1-for-10—it was the guys near the bottom of the order that got things going in the bottom of the ninth. First, left fielder Domonic Brown got a one-out walk off reliever Nick Vincent, who then hit Carlos Ruiz to put him on first.
With runners on first and second, Brignac then crushed a 2-0 cut fastball into the right field seats to put the game into the win column for a Phillies team that needs to put together a string of wins if they have any hope of getting back into playoff contention.
“It’s all about the team winning,” Hamels said. “No matter who gets the “W” next to their name as long as it’s next to the team, it’s everybody’s. We’re trying to claw tooth and nail to get back to where our potential is and where we feel we need to be to competitive. The opportunities are here we need to take it.”
In the fourth inning, things got a little tough for Hamels when the Padres loaded the bases with two outs. But Hamels shut down the Padres threat by striking out center fielder Cameron Maybin. He said that getting out of that threat was a matter of making good pitches.
“Getting into the game, it’s go time, you just go out and execute,” Hamels said. “I feel like I’ve been able to execute a lot more from start to finish and not giving in, especially when I do get behind. I’m just to trying to execute pitches and not trying to overdo it and force outs. I was able to make good pitches and get good results.”
The Phillies offense for the seven innings couldn’t get anything going off San Diego starter Tyson Ross, who allowed zero runs on four Phillies hits.