The second straight Papelbon implosion was uglier than the one that preceded it. And it all happened on a night when another potential suitor evaporated. Detroit acquired Texas closer Joakim Soria for two prospects.
Papelbon has not hidden his desire for a trade to a contender. He held up his end of the bargain with 11 straight scoreless appearances until Tuesday. His ERA remains a minuscule 1.96, although scouts' reports will not reflect Papelbon at his best as the trade deadline nears.
He allowed five runs in his first 39 games and four in his last two. But Papelbon does not believe the recent problems will affect his value.
"Not really," he said. "I think if you were to put an entire season into two games, it would be pretty dumb."
The Phillies closer thought he escaped the ninth inning without damage. He threw Pence a 2-2 slider that looked like a strike. Between innings, Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg yelled at home-plate umpire Vic Carapazza.
"Absolutely," Sandberg said. "We thought that was a good pitch."
After Pence's bloop, Papelbon spiked the rosin bag. His mess ruined A.J. Burnett's 131-pitch gem, a start that lasted eight shutout innings.
The last time Burnett fired more pitches in a game, he was 25 years old and pitching for the then-Florida Marlins against the Montreal Expos. Burnett, now 37, further showcased his trade value.
It was rather impressive, considering the problematic game conditions. Burnett, who will require hernia surgery at season's end, endured a 59-minute rain delay. The mound needed repairs several times.
A sustained lightning strike lit the sky just as the game resumed, followed by a loud boom of thunder. Some fans gasped. A few players stepped toward the dugout. The game, nonetheless, continued.
Burnett remains a Pittsburgh target. Pirates players, who were Burnett's teammates for the previous two seasons, have lobbied for his return, a source said. The Pirates have scouted Burnett this month. He would welcome a trade there, although money and an option for 2015 complicate matters.
A concussion, believed to be his second in five years, cost Carlos Ruiz 26 games. The Phillies catcher was activated from the disabled list Wednesday and batted fifth. He doubled to snap an 0-for-19 skid and added a single.
"He's feeling good, and he's ready to go," Sandberg said. "It will be nice to have his presence back there behind the plate as a veteran guy. Obviously, he knows the pitchers. It should make a difference."
Cameron Rupp was optioned to Lehigh Valley to clear space for Ruiz.
Maikel Franco did not play Wednesday for triple-A Lehigh Valley because of back tightness. The prospect was removed from Tuesday's game. A team official did not anticipate that Franco would miss significant time. . . . The Phillies swapped relievers by recalling Phillippe Aumont and designating Jeff Manship for assignment. Manship, who allowed four runs in the 14th inning of Tuesday's 9-6 loss to San Francisco, had a 6.65 ERA in 20 games. . . . John Mayberry Jr. received a cortisone injection for inflammation in his left wrist. He will rest for at least a week.