4-run 10th helps Phillies snap losing skid
ATLANTA -- After Cole Hamels and Shelby Miller produced a pitching matchup that lived up to expectations on Sunday afternoon at Turner Field, Ryan Howard helped the Phillies claim a 4-0, 10-inning win over the Braves courtesy of the sacrifice fly he produced against Dana Eveland.
Before Nick Masset loaded the bases with none out in the 10th inning, this was a pitchers' duel being waged between two teams that had recently gone in different directions. The Phillies had lost six straight and the Braves had won their past four games.
"I like going up against the best," Hamels said about facing Miller. "When you're going up against the number ones of teams, it's enjoyable. If you're fearing to go against the best, what does that really describe about yourself?"
Miller escaped a bases-loaded jam in the first inning and then kept the Phillies scoreless while scattering seven hits and notching eight strikeouts over 6 1/3 scoreless innings. The All-Star candidate lowered his ERA to 2.07, but he remains winless over his past nine starts. The Braves have not scored a run while he has been the pitcher of record in any of his past four starts.
"That's part of the game," Miller said. "At the end of the day, you look at the opponent you're facing and you're facing Hamels, a guy who has had a lot of success in the big leagues and is the ace of the Phillies. I'm just trying to go out there and pitch. Whether we score eight runs or one, it doesn't matter. We're just trying to win."
Hamels also escaped a first-inning, bases-loaded threat on the way to keeping the Braves scoreless over seven innings. After surrendering A.J. Pierzynski's one-out double in the fourth inning, the Phillies' left-hander recorded consecutive strikeouts against Pedro Ciriaco and Jonny Gomes.
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Howard does the job: The Phillies loaded the bases with no outs in the 10th inning against Masset and Howard followed with a sacrifice fly to right field to score the first run of the game. Carlos Ruiz and Freddy Galvis followed with hits to score three insurance runs. Masset and Eveland were both designated for assignment after the game. More >
Miller perseveres: Miller recorded three strikeouts during a 24-pitch first inning that remained scoreless thanks to Ciriaco's ability to knock down Ruiz's two-out single before it reached left field. After pitching around two singles and a walk in the first, Miller proved sharp enough to keep the Phillies off the board.
"Mechanically, I wasn't at my best," Miller said. "It was kind of a weird start. I came back in after the past couple of innings and Pierzynski adjusted me a little bit. Then I got back to feeling pretty normal."
Another Hamels effort wasted: Hamels allowed six hits and struck out six in seven scoreless innings, but got the no-decision. It was the eighth time in 17 starts this season the Phillies have not scored a run for Hamels while he has been the pitcher of record, explaining his 5-6 mark. More >
Squandered ninth: After Pierzynski's one-out single gave the Braves runners at the corners with one out in the ninth, the Phillies utilized Cody Asche as an extra infielder and saw Luis Garcia escape the jam. Ciriaco lofted a fly ball that was not deep enough to score Kelly Johnson and Garcia concluded the inning by striking out Juan Uribe.
"He gets it. If you want to look at it from a selfish standpoint, from his part he could say I just put a bunch of zeros on the board for seven innings and lowered my ERA. He wants to win 20 games, but he's making pretty good money. He handles it very well. He doesn't come off going, get me some runs." -- Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin, on if the constant lack of run support bothers Hamels.
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Cesar Hernandez swiped his 10th and 11th bases, and Galvis stole his sixth Sunday off of Pierzynski. Those steals -- plus Odubel Herrera's mistake on the bases in the fifth inning -- brought Pierzynski's caught-stealing percentage to 16 percent (41 of 49 have been successful), which is essentially the same as turning baserunners into Billy Hamilton (41-for-47, 87 percent).
Phillies: The Phillies open a four-game series Monday night at 10:10 p.m. ET against the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium, where they will see former teammate and franchise hits leader Jimmy Rollins. The Phillies traded Rollins in the offseason for Minor League pitchers Zach Eflin and Tom Windle.
Braves: Matt Wisler will take the mound when the Braves open a three-game series on Monday night against the Brewers at Miller Park. Wisler has impressed in two of his first three career starts. First pitch is set for 8:10 p.m. ET .
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