Phils' bats can't solve Santana

The Phillies' Jayson Werth is tagged out sliding into third by the Mets' David Wright while trying to advance on a grounder by Ben Francisco in the seventh inning.
The Phillies' Jayson Werth is tagged out sliding into third by the Mets' David Wright while trying to advance on a grounder by Ben Francisco in the seventh inning.
Posted: August 08, 2010

Once again, Cole Hamels held up his end of the bargain, and, once again, his teammates reneged on their end.

As if he didn't already, Hamels should know his margin for error each time the Phillies lefthander takes the mound - razor thin.

In another superb outing Saturday, Hamels made one bad pitch and it was one too many, as the Mets Jeff Francoeur hit one of those homers that can happen only in Citizens Bank Park. And so the Phillies' five-game winning streak, as well as their 12-game home winning streak, came to an agonizing conclusion in a 1-0 defeat.

Hamels was locked in a fascinating matchup between two lefthanders who are masters of the change-up. Johan Santana, who no-hit the Phillies for 52/3 innings, was a little better.

Hamels, who struck out a season-high 11 and walked none, had his run of hard luck continue. Although he's been near the top of his game, Hamels hasn't won since July 11 and has only one win since June 13. He has allowed three or fewer runs in 12 of his last 14 starts, but for some inexplicable reason, the Phillies' bats freeze when he's on the mound.

Afterward, he insisted he's not frustrated.

"We're winning, and the ultimate goal is to win ballgames, no matter who's pitching or who's playing the field," Hamels said after the Phils lost for only the third time in 16 games.

"I want to get to the playoffs as much as anybody on the team, and I think if I can go deep in ball games and make pitch after pitch and execute, that's all I can control. It's a matter of time, and things will work out."

While Hamels was trying to get a long-awaited victory, Santana was out to recover from back-to-back sub-standard starts and a bludgeoning he took from the Phillies the last time he went against them, an 11-5 loss on May 2. The 10 earned runs the Phils scored in that game were the most ever allowed by Santana.

Francoeur led off the seventh inning by sending a 1-0 change-up barely over the wall in right center.

"I've had probably 55 at- bats against Hamels," Francoeur said. "I've faced him as much as anybody. He had the best stuff I've seen him have - 95 miles an hour on his fastball. He made one mistake and he happened to make it against me."

It was another game in which the Phillies, without Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and Shane Victorino, had to play small ball. This time, they did a poor job of it.

Jayson Werth made a costly base-running gaffe after leading off the seventh with a double. He tried to take third on a grounder to short and was thrown out by Jose Reyes.

"Mistakes like that hurt you more when you're in one-run games," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.

In the eighth, Santana's athleticism was more impressive than his arm. As quick off the mound as any pitcher in the game, Santana pounced on a bunt by Placido Polanco and his throw forced out Jimmy Rollins at third.

Manuel defended his decision to have Polanco, his leading hitter, bunt with runners on first and second and no out.

"I was trying to get the tying run on third and the go-ahead run on second," he said. "And we would have had two chances to get it done."

Santana, who didn't allow a hit until Polanco's two-out single in the sixth, was pulled for Francisco Rodriguez with one out in the eighth. Rodriguez did a high-wire act before getting Ross Gload, pinch-hitting for Ben Francisco, to ground out on a 3-2 pitch with the bases loaded.

"Johan pitched a phenomenal game, and any time you go up against the caliber of player he is, you know it's going to be a close game and you have to keep it within reason and you have to battle," Hamels said.


Contact staff writer Ray Parrillo at 215-854-2743 or rparrillo@phillynews.com

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