For a second time in three days, fans at PNC Park were treated to a pitcher’s duel from both sides. In the end an 11th inning Josh Harrison walk-off single scored Neil Walker and resulted in a 1-0 victory.
The victory secured a series sweep for the Pirates.
Cole Hamels had his best start of the season with the Phillies allowing no runs on four hits in seven innings. His 12 strikeouts were a season high and most since September 14, 2010 when he had 13. He threw seven innings and allowed four hits while walking one batter. He threw 102 pitches and 73 strikes.
“I think that was Cole’s best outing in terms of crispness and down in the zone,” Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. “He was really getting after it and I thought he was outstanding.”
Burnett had the unenviable task of matching him and did so throwing nine innings for the first time since June 20, 2014. Burnett had 10 ground ball outs. He threw 101 pitches, 71 of which were strikes. It was the second lowest pitch count for Burnett when throwing nine innings. The lowest was 92 which was done June 27, 2006 when he threw 92 pitches against the Washington Nationals.
“It was wonderful to watch him,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “He was outstanding today.”
“It was probably one of the most fun games I’ve pitched in a while,” said Burnett.
The two players were teammates in 2014 and Hamels was quick to praise Burnett.
“I have to credit him with pretty much teaching me how to throw the curveball again,” Hamels said. “He helped me with the knuckle-curve and I have to give him all of the credit in the world. It’s great to be able to learn from a guy like him.”
Burnett cited his enjoyment of the outing by the defense his players displayed. No effort was more appreciated than Sean Rodriguez’s diving grab on Freddy Galvis in the fifth. Harrison put his hands up and all of the players waited by the dugout to acknowledge their right fielder.
“I was running and diving and hoped that it went into my glove,” said Rodriguez of the grab.
The Phillies threatened in the ninth inning when Ben Revere singled and stole second, his 15th theft of the season. Chase Utley then came to the plate and hit a ball third base umpire Jeff Nelson ruled foul. Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg challenged the play, however the call stood.
“I just wanted to look at it to make sure,” Sandberg said. “Our guy said it was probably foul but close. I was going by the kick of the ball, plus it was worth a shot anyways.”
Right after this call was made, Revere attempted to steal third base. Francisco Cervelli’s throw came in late however Jung Ho Kang held his tag and Revere over slid the base and was called out.
“Having trouble scoring runs that becomes an enormous play,” said Sandberg. “Especially when he has the base stolen very easily and then to overslide, that becomes a very big play and a prime position with Chase Utley up that was taken away.”
Though Utley walked, Howard grounded out ending the threat.
In the bottom half of the inning, Sean Rodriguez hit an infield single off Luis Garcia and advanced to second when Cervelli hit a sacrifice bunt. Gregory Polanco, who entered as a defensive replacement was intentionally walked. Walker then came in to pinch-hit for Jordy Mercer and struck out. Pinch-hitter Pedro Alvarez struck out. Manager Clint Hurdle was ejected during the Alvarez plate appearance for arguing balls and strikes with home plate umpire Cory Blaser.
After Jared Hughes got out of the 10th inning and Jonathan Papelbon [1-1] pitched the 10th inning. Starling Marte hit a one-out double and Andrew McCutchen was intentionally walked. Jung Ho Kang and Rodriguez each flew out to end the threat however.
The Pirates threatened again in the 11th inning. Walker singled and Tabata ran hard out of the box forcing a Freddy Galvis error which advanced the runners to second and third respectively. Harrison’s single ended the game.
Antonio Bastardo earned his second victory of the season. He is now 2-1 on the season and has a 2.83 ERA in his last 12 appearances.
The Pirates will conclude their homestand with a two-game series against the Chicago White Sox. Carlos Rodon [2-0 2.66 ERA] will face Francisco Liriano [3-5 3.25 ERA] Monday. Liriano is 5-4 with a 4.99 ERA in 15 career games [11 starts] against his former team.
Photo courtesy: Gene J. Puskar/AP