PITTSBURGH (AP) — Cole Hamels credits A.J. Burnett for reconnecting him with how to throw a proper curveball.
The Philadelphia Phillies ace spent seven innings showing it off for his former teammate on Sunday afternoon. It just wasn’t enough to end the latest slide in a season full of them.
Hamels was long gone by the time Freddy Galvis’ throwing error in the 11th inning set up Josh Harrison’s game-winning single off Jonathan Papelbon to give the Pittsburgh Pirates a 1-0 win and send the Phillies to their sixth straight loss.
Neil Walker singled with two outs in the 11th off Papelbon (1-1) and Jose Tabata followed with a grounder to Galvis at shortstop. Galvis’ throw sailed into the stands behind first and Harrison followed with a crisp shot up the middle. Walker trotted home and the Phillies trudged off the field winless on the road (0-10) since May 23.
“I just made a bad throw,” Galvis said. “I just threw the ball and it went up there. (Hamels) pitched good today. One mistake cost the game.”
Philadelphia managed all of three runs in 33 innings over the weekend, falling 1-0 in 13 innings on Friday then basically repeating it less than 48 hours later. The Phillies left 25 runners on base and went 1 for 25 with runners in scoring position during the series. Pittsburgh’s defense contributed to Philadelphia’s issues, with center fielder Andrew McCutchen and right fielder Sean Rodriguez making a pair of spectacular grabs to rob the Phillies of extra bases.
“They really go get it in the outfield,” manager Ryne Sandberg said. “It really played big in the whole series but it really played big today.”
The Pirates needed to go get it to keep themselves in the game until Hamels left.
Facing Burnett, who he befriended when they played together in Philadelphia last season, Hamels’ only trouble spot came in the fourth when two singles and a hit by pitch loaded the bases. Jordy Mercer grounded out to third to end the threat and Hamels went back to keeping Pittsburgh’s right-hand heavy lineup in knots.
He retired 11 of the last 12 batters he faced, the final one a meek grounder by Burnett that went right back to Hamels. Rather than run to first, Burnett held up his hands as if to say “I’m good” while his former teammate jogged to record the out.
“Probably every outing he goes out he gives us a chance to win and the times that we’ve gotten a run late or gotten a lead he’s actually turned it up a notch then,” Sandberg said. “He probably needed just one run today.”
Hamels didn’t get it. His last win came in an 8-1 win over the Nationals three weeks ago. That’s also the last time last-place Philadelphia managed to win somewhere other than Citizens Bank Park. The MVP of the 2008 World Series is attempting to remain upbeat even as the team’s swoon shows no sign of abating.
“I’m just doing what I do,” Hamels said. “I only get to affect every five days and just getting the same work in I put in year in and year out. As long as I’m going up there and being accountable that’s all I can do.”
It’s what Burnett attempted to do in 2014, when he pitched through a hernia and led the majors with 18 losses. He left $4.5 million on the table to leave the Phillies and re-sign with Pittsburgh. He pitched nine masterful innings against his old team on Sunday to lower his ERA to 1.89.
“I kind of figured (Hamels) was thinking out there ‘I’m just going to try and keep getting better and better’ and I just tried to stay with him,” Burnett said. “He probably punched out 30 or something. He’s competitive like me and I enjoy going up against him.”
Phillies OF Domonic Brown went hitless in four at bats in his first major-league start of the season. The 27-year-old was recalled from Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Saturday after spending the first two months of the year in the minors. Brown, an All-Star in 2013 when he mashed 27 homers, hit sixth and is expected to get regular playing time in hopes of reviving his career and Philadelphia’s sagging offense.
Phillies: Philadelphia begins a four-game home-and-home interleague set with Baltimore on Monday when Aaron Harang (4-7, 3.04) faces Wei-Yin Chen (6-2, 2.11) at Camden Yards. Harang is 1-2 with a 6.00 ERA in three career starts against Baltimore.
Pirates: Pittsburgh meets the Chicago White Sox for the first time since 2010 when the White Sox visit PNC Park on Monday. Francisco Liriano (3-5, 3.25 ERA) starts for Pittsburgh against LHP Carlos Rodon (2-0, 2.66 ERA). The Pirates are 9-17 against the White Sox in interleague play.
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