Four Phillies pitchers combine for no-hitter

Hamels high-fives teammates after the first combined no-hitter in Phillies history. CURTIS COMPTON / Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Hamels high-fives teammates after the first combined no-hitter in Phillies history. CURTIS COMPTON / Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Posted: September 03, 2014

ATLANTA - As the first combined no-hitter in 132 years of Phillies baseball neared its strange conclusion, a rolling laundry cart inside the visitors' clubhouse at Turner Field became an ice bucket. It held six champagne bottles. One for every Phillies pitcher and catcher who authored history, plus an extra for good measure.

This accomplishment gave a hapless team the chance to celebrate something. The Phillies have stumbled together for five months, so they toasted together after Monday's 7-0 win over the Atlanta Braves.

"I'm happy the outcome came out the way that it did because this is truly one of the better experiences you can probably have in this sort of situation," starter Cole Hamels said. "It was a whole complete team effort. Most of the time when you see these sort of events it's one or two people, a great play."

This moment needed four pitchers because Hamels exhausted 108 pitches in six innings. Braves infielder Phil Gosselin, a West Chester native, lined Jonathan Papelbon's slider to first base for the 27th out. Papelbon - more reserved than after a typical save - pumped his fist a few times. At 4:22 p.m., the Phillies embraced in a giant hug on the mound.

Hamels, Jake Diekman, Ken Giles, and Papelbon completed the 12th no-hitter in franchise history. It was the Phillies' first since Roy Halladay's two no-hit games in 2010. A franchise with an illustrious Father's Day perfect game added this unusual Labor Day no-no. The majors' last combined no-hitter was June 8, 2012, when six Seattle pitchers did it.

"It's a big moment for the team," manager Ryne Sandberg said. "It was a team thing. At this stage of the game, it was fun to watch. Glad to be a part of that."

The fifth bottle of champagne was reserved for Carlos Ruiz, who caught his third no-hitter. That is one shy of the major-league record held by Jason Varitek. The ball from the final out was tucked into a sanitary sock. The Phillies, Hamels said, will make it a gift to David Montgomery, who took a medical leave of absence last week as the team's president.

"He's been a paramount person in the Phillies' organization," Hamels said. "I think it's really nice to be able to give it to him because of the struggles of the organization and what David and his family has gone through. Hopefully, this will be something special for this season and sum up what we've been trying to do and what he means to all of us."

This never felt like a no-hitter. Hamels walked the first two Braves he faced. Five Atlanta batters reached base - on four walks and a hit batter - in the game's first three innings. Hamels needed 60 pitches for those first nine outs, but escaped.

He did not fight Sandberg's decision to lift him. The last Phillies pitcher removed after six no-hit innings was David West in 1994. It was just the third time it happened in 100 years. Hamels' teammates congratulated him with handshakes.

"It didn't take long," Sandberg said. "He was pretty well spent there."

"Understanding the situation and what was going on, I wasn't really too worried about it," Hamels said. "We're really just trying to win the game. I have the utmost respect and faith in the bullpen because they've been outstanding all year. Especially these three guys right next to me."

Hamels sat beside Diekman, Giles, and Papelbon in a storage room for a makeshift news conference. Everyone looked tired; the Phillies played a day game in oppressive heat Monday after a lengthy loss Sunday in New York followed by a weather-delayed charter flight to Atlanta.

Papelbon said his energy did not match that of a typical save situation. "I think he just wants to lay in bed right now," Giles said. Diekman admitted he did not know he entered a no-hitter in the seventh inning until he peered at the scoreboard while he jogged onto the field from the bullpen.

"No idea," he said.

The temperature at first pitch was 88 degrees, and many of the 34,178 fans in attendance fanned themselves with paper or cardboard attached to a stick. The conditions for a pitcher without his standard pinpoint control were not ideal.

The closest Atlanta came to a hit against Hamels was in the third inning, when Chris Johnson lashed a slicing liner to right field that Marlon Byrd snared with a belly flop.

"Right guy in the right place," Sandberg said.

Ben Revere supported everyone with a career-high five RBIs. (He now has 20 for the season.) He cleared the bases in the seventh with a triple.

The final 12 Braves hitters succumbed in order. Diekman featured a 98-m.p.h. fastball and struck out two. Giles struck out the side with a fastball that reached 98 m.p.h. Papelbon, who requested work before the game, used just nine pitches in the ninth. Gosselin, a Malvern Prep graduate, ended it.

"I grew up watching those guys," Gosselin said. "It's weird playing against them now and being a part of the no-hitter."

Hamels has a 2.50 ERA in 25 starts. Biceps tendinitis derailed the start of his season, but the 30-year-old lefthander has been nothing short of spectacular since.

And, on this sweltering holiday, Hamels was one of four unhittable Phillies pitchers who inherited a trophy in the form of an empty champagne bottle.

"It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience," Giles said. "I'm happy to be a part of this team, and with these three guys right here, I'm going to enjoy every minute of it."


mgelb@phillynews.com

@magelb inquirer.com/phillieszone

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