Phillies get flattened by Padres

Cameron Rupp after striking out in his first major-league at-bat. He later got his first hit.
Cameron Rupp after striking out in his first major-league at-bat. He later got his first hit. (YONG KIM / Staff Photographer)
Posted: September 12, 2013

These are the dog days of summer: Zach Miner and Luis Garcia mop up innings while canines roam Citizens Bank Park for the first time ever. A haze descended upon South Philadelphia in the middle innings Tuesday while one mediocre team punished another. Autumn is close.

That means the end is near for these Phillies. Nights like an 8-2 loss to San Diego beseech wishes for a rapid final 18 games without injury and further embarrassment. Tyler Cloyd was reinserted into the rotation and lasted all of four innings. The Padres scored eight runs on 12 hits in the first five innings.

The paid attendance of 29,242 did not include about 50 dogs invited as part of a new September ballpark promotion. They patrolled the rooftop of Ashburn Alley. Some dogs up for adoption entered the field between innings and barked at the Phanatic.

That was when Ethan Martin jogged from the bullpen and began his transition from failed starter to possible relief savior. He fired 10 pitches, all strikes, and hit 95 m.p.h. on the radar gun in a scoreless sixth inning. His success occurred in the most mundane of situations, but it was encouraging. Martin is sure to see more important assignments. Ryne Sandberg has spoken of using him in the eighth inning.

"That was impressive," Sandberg said. "If that's something he can do out of the bullpen in his first attempt, that's very good."

The interim manager is suddenly blessed with three hard-throwing, late-inning options in Martin, Jake Diekman, and B.J. Rosenberg. Their development is one of this dying season's silver linings.

The rest of the young Phillies continue the slog. Cody Asche smashed another home run, his fifth. Cameron Rupp, a catcher who forced his way into the organization's plans with an improved 2013 season, started in his major-league debut. He tapped one to third in the eighth inning and beat the throw to first while stumbling over the bag for his first hit.

Rupp's first week in the majors was confined to the bench. He was promoted Sept. 3 and did not see action until Tuesday. His father went home after Sunday's game but returned with his brother and sister. His mother stayed all week. They have a 6:30 a.m. flight Wednesday back to Dallas.

"They can take a cab to the airport," Rupp said.

He will sleep well after a debut that was praised behind the scenes. Home-plate umpire Mark Wegner approached Sandberg during a ninth-inning pitching change and complimented Rupp's framing and receiving of pitches.

"We were just sharing notes in the coaches' room," Sandberg said, "and we hadn't had much feedback about anybody doing that too often."

Maybe Rupp finds a more permanent home in Philadelphia next season. Regardless of what the Phillies do with Carlos Ruiz, an impending free agent, they will require a backup catcher. Erik Kratz has filled that role with inconsistency in 2013 - his last home run was June 3. Kratz is 6 for 44 since returning from knee surgery. His .644 OPS ranks 29th among 37 catchers with at least 200 plate appearances.

The upper deck cleared by the eighth inning, when Sandberg removed what veterans he possessed. Nine Phillies took the field in the eighth. Seven played for triple-A Lehigh Valley in 2013. Another, Roger Bernadina, was released by Washington.

Only Kevin Frandsen remained when Rupp skied one to right to conclude another lost night. Dogs and humans exited the building one day closer to a long winter.


Contact Matt Gelb at mgelb@phillynews.com.

Follow on Twitter @magelb.

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