SEATTLE (AP) — It was pointed out to Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel, after his team lost two of three to the Seattle Mariners, that it was a long way to travel for just one win.
“I’ve gone farther,” said Manuel after Sunday’s 2-0 loss.
That was Manuel’s wry way of maintaining his perspective but it didn’t ease the sting of wasting an outstanding outing by Cole Hamels.
Jason Varges (5-4) tossed a three-hitter for his second shutout of the season, outdueling Hamels for the victory. The Mariners won Friday, 4-2, beating Roy Oswalt. The Phillies salvaged a 5-1 win Saturday.
“The hardest hit ball was the triple by the kid (Dustin Ackley),” Manuel said. “Outside of that, Hamels was pretty good.”
Hamels (9-3) was denied his chance at becoming the first pitcher in the majors to reach 10 wins. It also ended his career-best five-game win streak, and six-game road win streak. He gave up two runs on seven hits in 6 1-3 innings. He struck out six and walked none.
Vargas was just better. He not only kept pace with Hamels, he exceeded and outlasted him in his third career complete game. He allowed just two singles and six base-runners. After a two-out walk to Carlos Ruiz in the fourth, he retired the next 15 straight batters until Ryan Howard’s two-out single in the ninth. That brought up Ben Francisco as the potential tying run.
That’s when Mariners manager Eric Wedge, with closer Brandon League ready in the bullpen, came out for a visit. He decided to leave him in and Vargas induced Francisco to fly out, ending the game.
“For Wedgie to come out there with those crazy eyes and say, ‘I’m sticking with you; let’s get this done.’ Awesome,” shortstop Brendan Ryan said. “That’s great stuff from the manager.”
It was the fifth time the Phillies have been shut out. It’s also the fifth time they have been held to three hits or fewer.
The Mariners now have eight shutouts on the season.
Hamels, third in the NL in ERA coming in at 2.49, allowed just two two-out singles through the first five innings.
The Mariners finally rallied rather innocently off him in the sixth. Ichiro Suzuki reached on a bad-hop single off first baseman Howard with one out.
“I was kind of going back cause I saw the first (hop) and then once it hit again it just kind of shot up and I wasn’t able to handle it,” Howard said.
Suzuki broke for second on Ryan’s left-side groundout. He reached second to prevent a possible double play.
Justin Smoak then took a mighty swing but got under the ball, blooping it just over shortstop Jimmy Rollin’s reach into shallow left. Suzuki scored easily.
“Against him, you have to grind every at-bat. To get that first one across was big,” Smoak said. “I knew it had a chance (to drop). He threw a cutter inside and it got in on me. It’s one of those things luck was on my side today.”
The Mariners added another run in the seventh. Ackley, who made his big-league debut Friday, tripled to lead off the inning. With the infield in, Franklin Gutierrez bounced out to shortstop with Ackley holding. Pinch-hitter Adam Kennedy then dropped in a RBI single at the feet of left-fielder Michael Martinez.
Hamels said his intention was to pitch around Kennedy to set up a double-play situation.
“I did not want to necessarily lay a pitch right down the middle,” Hamels said. “I made a good pitch and he was just able to get it where we weren’t.
“It (pitch) was a little up but that is where I felt it was a good spot for him to swing and miss or pop it up,” Hamels added. “He did pop it up but just out of reach. When you have guys in scoring position you have to make good pitches.”
The Phillies entered the game with the best winning percentage against left-handed starters at .750. They are now 15-6. The Mariners had the worst percentage against lefties in the American League at .368. They are now 8-12.
Howard said that Vargas “mixed it up well. He didn’t necessarily have to throw stuff for strikes. He threw enough for strikes to where it got us a bit out of our element — guys were out in front of pitches.”
The Mariners scrambled to keep the Phillies off the scoreboard in the first. After Vargas struck out Chase Utley to seemingly end the inning, the Phils got a break when catcher Miguel Olivo let the ball get through his legs and Utley reached first. Howard then singled to center before Vargas threw a wild pitch, allowing both runners to advance. Francisco then lofted a ball into shallow left center. Left fielder Greg Halman ran a long way and caught it on a slide.
In the fourth, the Phillies had a threat with runners on first and second and one out. Raul Ibanez lined out to third baseman Chone Figgins, who quickly threw across the diamond to double up Ruiz at first.
Hamels recorded his 1,000th career strikeout by fanning Olivo in the fourth. He is the 46th active pitcher, and the 11th left-hander, to reach that plateau.
Notes: The Phillies entered the game with the best winning percentage against left-handed starters at .750. They were 15-5. The Mariners had the worst percentage against lefties in the American League at .368, going 7-12. … The crowd of 45,462 was the second sellout at Safeco Field and first since opening day.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)