PHILADELPHIA -– The pitchers pitched like they were trying to beat the rain. The hitters hit as you’d expect with bleary eyes and heavy legs.
All except for Hunter Pence. Does his needle ever sink into the red?
A night after playing 14 innings, baseball’s current Iron Man put a charge into a Jonathan Papelbon fastball in the ninth to break a scoreless tie. The three-run double was the Giants’ weapon of choice for the second consecutive night as they took a rain-delayed, 3-1 victory at Citizens Bank Park.
Pence took a very, very borderline 2-2 pitch from Papelbon, fouled one straight back, then fought a flare down the right field line that cleared the bases with two out. Even Hector Sanchez, who caught 248 pitches over nearly six hours a night earlier, managed to score from first base.
The Giants rewarded Madison Bumgarner, who earned a win in more than one respect by holding the Phillies scoreless on 93 pitches in eight innings while also coming back following a 59-minute rain delay in the top of the fourth.
Bumgarner saved a staff that used nine pitchers in Tuesday’s draining victory. Now the Giants not only have a shot to complete their first four-game sweep here in South Philly since 1998, but they also have a chance to exit here with a mostly intact bullpen heading into an important home weekend series with the Dodgers.
Starting pitching report
Bumgarner threw a tidy 39 pitches while facing one more than the minimum in the first three innings, which made it possible to come back after the 59-minute delay.
That’s a good thing, since George Kontos and Jeremy Affeldt were off limits (Tim Lincecum, too), and they really didn’t want to use a starting pitcher –- Ryan Vogelsong this time -– as an emergency reliever for the second consecutive night.
So all things considered, among them the three-game series with the Dodgers that begins on Friday, Bumgarner’s effective and efficient start was one of his bigger regular-season contributions.
Carlos Ruiz doubled in the second inning and Bumgarner proceeded to retire the next 13 hitters. Ben Revere broke that string with a single in the sixth but Buster Posey threw him out trying to steal second base.
Bumgarner threw his most stressful pitches in the eighth after Ruiz and Brown flared singles to start the inning and advanced on a sacrifice. Bumgarner struck out Andres Blanco before he got pinch hitter Grady Sizemore to strike out.
Bumgarner yielded five hits and did not walk a batter while striking out six.
Santiago Casilla, pitching for the fourth time in five days and third consecutive, allowed a run when Jimmy Rollins doubled off the right field wall and Byrd hit a two-out single. But Ruiz flied out to end it.
At the plate
The Giants couldn’t catch a break in eight innings against A.J. Burnett. Pence was denied a single by third baseman Andres Blanco’s diving stop in the third inning, Posey crushed an out to the warning track in right field in the fourth and Michael Morse made even harder contact on a drive that Marlon Byrd stumbled back to catch near the wall. That last hard out really stung, since it came with two runners on base in the sixth.
The Giants ran their way into two other outs when the wet field turned into a Wham-O product at second base. Ehire Adrianza was tagged out in the sixth when he overslid the bag on a steal attempt, although it looked like Chase Utley contributed a not-so-helpful nudge with his glove. Pence overslid the bag after a leadoff walk in the eighth, and rather than give himself up, he sprang to his feet and ran to third before being tagged out. (He originally received credit for a stolen base but it was changed to a caught stealing. Pence is 9 for 13 after going 22 for 25 last season.)
But they handed Papelbon a loss to go along with his blown save from a night earlier. Morse was hit by a pitch, pinch runner Gregor Blanco stole second base and the Phillies intentionally walked Brandon Crawford, whose three-run double won it for the Giants less than 24 hours earlier.
Bruce Bochy sent up Hector Sanchez to pinch hit for Bumgarner – a decision that probably wasn’t popular in all circles. But Sanchez turned a 1-2 count into a walk, and then Pence survived a very scary two-strike pitch that wasn’t good enough for palte umpire Vic Carapazza.
Pence’s hit was his 125th of the season, which leads the National League.
The Phillies weren’t the only ones who flashed leather.
Pablo Sandoval continues to play the best defense of his life at third base. While playing in front of the bag, he was able to react and make a diving stop to his left of Burnett’s grounder in the third inning. Sandoval also took a hit away from Jimmy Rollins when he made a difficult stop of a between-hops smash near the line to start the seventh.
The Phillies announced 28,648 paid, and until the ninth, the most entertaining show was the Phillie Phanatic pretending to be a top-heavy Bruce Bochy while holding his head and falling down.
The Giants and Phillies wrap up their four-game series on Thursday at Citizens Bank Park. Tim Hudson (8-6, 2.78) takes the mound against Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels (4-5, 2.83). First pitch is scheduled for 10:05 a.m. PDT.