Charlie Manuel has no answers for his wretched bullpen. The Phillies skipper opted not to go with a struggling and overworked Jonathan Papelbon Wednesday night, with a game tied in the top of the ninth.
“We were trying to stay away from him unless we got the lead,” Manuel said. “He’s been pitching a lot lately.”
Manuel watched as Luis Garcia struggled with control and Justin DeFratus gave up a long home run to Donnie Murphy, who went deep twice and propelled the Cubs to a 5-2 win over the Phillies.
“There are guys out there [in the bullpen] that we think will be good, we just don’t know who they are,” Manuel said.
Those are hardly words of consolation for Cole Hamels, who deserved to win but almost lost his 14th game of this nightmarish season.
At least Hamels doesn’t have to go far for therapy. All King Cole has to do is slide down a few cubicles to visit Cliff Lee to discuss his personal debacle.
Wins were as rare as humility in a episode of “The Kardashians” and lack of support was a way of life for Lee, circa 2012. That’s the story for Hamels in 2013. Sure, he had a couple of shaky starts early on but much of the season he has pitched well and his teammates haven’t backed him up.
Over his last seven starts Hamels has posted a 2.16 ERA but has only won two of those decisions. “I can’t worry about what I can’t control,” Hamels said.
The snakebitten Hamels, who gave up a 345-foot home run off the bat of Murphy, which bounced off the top of the right-field fence, received two runs worth of support. Domonic Brown blasted a long home run into the Phillies’ bullpen and Chase Utley drove in a run with a single.
On the eve of signing a contract extension, Utley tried to score on a single from second with one out to give the Phillies the lead in the seventh but was gunned down at the plate. Cubs catcher Dioner Navarro blocked the plate, which is a rarity these days, and held on to the ball as Utley crushed him.
Utley’s balky knees crashed into Navarro’s shin guard, but Utley was fine. Navarro was in tears as he was carted off the field. X-rays were negative. Navarro suffered a contusion of his left ankle but there may be ligament damage.
“That shows we’re still playing,” Manuel said. “We’re not quitting.”
Hamels wasn’t surprised that Utley ran at Navarro as if it were the seventh game of the World Series. “That’s just the way he plays,” Hamels said.
Manuel wouldn’t comment on the reported contract extension between the Phillies and Utley, but Hamels is pleased about the potential deal.
“Chase is pretty much the face of the franchise,” Hamels said. “He’s done it right since he’s been here.”
Utley, who is now tied for second with Ryan Howard for team RBIs with 43, did it right again. He tied the game and almost gave the Phillies the lead.