But Papelbon got back to work Sunday, earning the save in a 5-4 victory over the Braves at Citizens Bank Park. He allowed a home run to Braves pinch-hitter Alberto Callaspo, the first run he had allowed in seven appearances this season. He also had two runners on base when left fielder Ben Revere caught the game's final out against the outfield wall.
"He hung in there," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said about Papelbon. "Little scary there at the end, going up against the pads, but he got the job done."
Papelbon is worth watching as teams like the Nationals, Blue Jays and Tigers are seeing their bullpens struggle. But so is Phillies right-hander Luis Garcia, who is emerging as one of the team's most valuable bullpen pieces.
Phillies right-hander Jerome Williams had a runner on first with two outs in the seventh inning when Garcia entered the game to face Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman, who hits left-handed.
It was a noteworthy choice.
Garcia entered the afternoon with a 1.08 ERA in nine appearances. Left-handers had hit .600 (3-for-5) against him this season, although they had hit just .231 against him in his career. But Sandberg chose the right-hander with left-hander Jake Diekman unavailable after pitching three of the previous four days.
Garcia got Freeman to ground out to end the inning.
"That was a big out," Sandberg said.
"That was big," Williams echoed.
Especially with Diekman (10.29 ERA in nine appearances) and Justin De Fratus (5.00 ERA in eight appearances) struggling early. Sandberg needs options for those games when the Phillies are holding a late lead. Garcia is becoming a big one.
"He's a power pitcher," Sandberg said about Garcia. "The biggest thing with Garcia right now is the command of the baseball. He has two power pitches, and when he's ahead of the hitters, he can be very effective."