PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Jonathan Papelbon blew another save, got booed off the mound and then cleared up his critical comments.
It’s been a tough week for the five-time All-Star closer.
Joaquin Arias and pinch-hitter Roger Kieschnick had RBI singles off Papelbon in the top of the ninth inning, then Sergio Romo escaped a bases-loaded jam in the bottom half as the San Francisco Giants beat the Philadelphia Phillies 2-1 Thursday night.
Papelbon heard loud boos from fans, who were unhappy with his performance and irritated by his comments last weekend when he said the Phillies need massive changes and he didn’t sign here to play for a losing team.
“I wasn’t calling anybody out,” Papelbon told The Associated Press after speaking to a group of reporters for eight minutes. “I was saying that in any job, whether it’s baseball, working in Wal-Mart or working in the corporate world, if you aren’t getting the job done, you’re going to lose your job. Me included. Everybody here understands that from players to coaches to management. We don’t keep our jobs forever. I wasn’t singling anyone out. We all understand that.”
After the Phillies lost to Detroit on Sunday to extend their losing streak to eight games, Papelbon was asked by MLB.com what the team needed to turn things around.
“It’s going to take, in my opinion, a lot,” he said. “And in my opinion, I think it’s going to have to be something very similar to what the Red Sox went through a couple years ago. From top to bottom.”
The Red Sox fired manager Terry Francona after missing the postseason in 2011. General manager Theo Epstein then left to join the Chicago Cubs. Papelbon also left, signing the richest contract ever given to a closer with the Phillies. Other veterans were jettisoned, too. Boston finished last in the AL East in 2012, but is first this season.
Many people in Philadelphia interpreted Papelbon’s comments as a shot at manager Charlie Manuel and general manager Ruben Amaro Jr.
Asked if he spoke to Manuel or Amaro about it, Papelbon said: “There’s nothing that needed to be hashed out.”
Papelbon said he didn’t have any issue with teammates about his comments, either. Cole Hamels even agreed with him.
“Ultimately, I didn’t sign here for this,” said Hamels, who pitched eight scoreless innings before Papelbon blew the game. “A lot of our thoughts don’t get voiced. When they do, it looks bad.”
Manuel said he didn’t have a problem with Papelbon’s harsh comments.
“If you read the context of it, it was left open for picking,” Manuel said.
Hamels outpitched Matt Cain in a matchup of struggling aces. He allowed seven hits and struck out five. The 2008 World Series MVP hasn’t pitched like a three-time All-Star this season, but he left with a 1-0 lead that he gave himself with an RBI single.
Then Papelbon (2-1) blew it — a familiar scene for the 2012 All-Star closer. He started the season 13 for 13 in save opportunities, but is 7 for 13 since. He heard loud boos throughout the inning and when he walked to the dugout.
Hunter Pence led off the ninth with an infield single and advanced to third on Brett Pill’s single to right. Kieschnick followed with a tying single that sent Pill to third, and Arias grounded his go-ahead hit to left.
“Those balls weren’t scorched or roped,” Manuel said.
Romo loaded the bases with no outs before finishing for his 25th save in 29 tries.
Pinch-hitter Delmon Young reached on third baseman Pablo Sandoval’s error to start the bottom of the ninth. Cody Asche then tried to sacrifice, but Romo fielded it and slipped so the rookie got credit for his first major league hit. John Mayberry Jr. was hit by a pitch while trying to sacrifice to load the bases.
After Laynce Nix flied to shallow right, Carlos Ruiz flied to shallow left. Pinch-hitter Erik Kratz grounded out to third to end it.
The Phillies are 2-10 since the All-Star break and have dropped to 9½ games behind Cincinnati for the second wild-card spot in the NL.
Nix hit a broken-bat single with two outs in the fifth and Ruiz followed with a single. Hamels then sliced an RBI single down the left-field line for a 1-0 lead.
NOTES: Former Phillies closer Brad Lidge threw out the first pitch. Lidge, who was 48 for 48 in save chances during Philadelphia’s 2008 World Series championship season, formally retired as a member of the Phillies. … RHP Ethan Martin will make his major league debut for the Phillies on Friday night against Atlanta’s Kris Medlen (7-10). Martin, acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers in a trade for Shane Victorino last year, is 11-5 with a 4.12 ERA in 21 starts at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Cliff Lee, who missed his start because of a stiff neck, will pitch Sunday.
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