Chase Utley smacked a two-run homer in the first inning, and added a single and run scored in the third, as the Philadelphia Phillies clung to a 3-2 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers Monday night at Miller Park. Cole Hamels pitched a solid game to earn his third win.
The Brewers did not help themselves, making a trio of major base running blunders to derail three potential rallies.
The Phillies came to town a struggling team, having won just one of their last ten games, including a three-game losing streak. Philadelphia (37-51) is last in the N.L. East, twelve games behind leader Atlanta. The Brewers (52-37) hold a 4 1/2 game lead over Pittsburgh in the N.L. Central, and have had some struggles of their own as of late, winning only half of their last ten games.
Hamels (2-5, 2.98 ERA) took the mound for the Phillies, while Marco Estrada (7-5, 4.94 ERA) started for Milwaukee.
The Phillies got off to a fast start, courtesy of a gopher-ball given up by Estrada, his 27th allowed, which leads the majors.
Ben Revere led off the game by lining a single to center, and then pilfered second when Jean Segura lifted his glove and made a high tag, allowing Revere to just sneak his left hand in for the safe call. Andres Blanco then bunted Revere over to third.
Utley connected on an 0-1 pitch, hammering the ball over the Southwest sign in right field over a leaping Ryan Braun to give the Phillies a 2-0 lead. Estrada coaxed a pair of fly balls to center to retire the side.
Hamels had little trouble in the home half, retiring the Crew in order on a whiff and two fly balls.
The Phillies got a base runner in the top of the second with one out when Domonic Brown reached on an infield single. He then moved to second on a balk call on Estrada when the hurler dropped the ball with his foot on the rubber. Estrada retired the side on a fly ball and strikeout.
All-Star Carlos Gomez started off the bottom half of number two with a hard grounder down the third base line that was good for a two-bagger, but a few pitches later, Hamel picked off ‘Go-Go’ when his throw to Utley beat the runner by a couple feet. Aramis Ramirez and Khris Davis provided the final two out with Ks.
Utley got involved in the scoring again in the top of the third.
With two outs, the Phillies second baseman singled up the middle. Ryan Howard then rifled a full-count pitch to deep right that Braun couldn’t get to. Utley was off with the pitch, and that coupled with the fact that Braun was not throwing well, scored all the way from first as Howard held up with a single. Braun got the final out with a nice running, leaping catch on the track in right.
Mark Reynolds started the Brewers half of the third off with a broken-bat single. He advanced to second on a swinging bunt by Segura, who nearly reached when Hamels’ throw almost pulled Howard off first. Estrada struck out and Rickie Weeks grounded out to end the frame.
Estrada retired the Phillies in order in the fourth, including two strikeouts.
The Brewers had a promising start to the bottom half of the inning when Braun singled and Lucroy drew a base on balls. Things quickly went downhill when Gomez hit into a 6-4-3 twin killing and Ramirez rolled to second.
The Phillies loaded the bags in the fifth on Revere’s infield single and two-out walks to Utley and Howard.
But a great play by Ramirez got Estrada out of the inning. Marlon Byrd hit a smash down the line and Ramirez grabbed it with his momentum taking him into foul ground. He fired a one-hop throw to first that beat Byrd by an eyelash to keep the Phillies lead at 3-0.
Milwaukee cut into the lead in the bottom of the fifth.
Davis singled to left and Reynolds reached on a error by third baseman Cody Asche. Segura then singled to left to load the bases for pinch hitter Jeff Bianchi, who ripped the first pitch he saw to right, scoring Davis and Reynolds. Segura made a base running mistake and got cut down on a nice throw to third by right fielder Byrd. Hamels limited the damage to two runs when he got Weeks and Braun to ground out.
Estrada departed after five complete, allowing six hits, three runs (all earned), two walks and five punch outs. Lefty Tom Gorzelanny came in to start the sixth, making his seventh appearance of the season.
Asche led off the frame with a base hit to right, but it ended there as Gorzelanny got a fly ball and two strikeouts to end the inning with Philly holding a 3-2 lead.
The Brewers failed to gain traction in their half of the sixth, going down in order to Hamels.
Southpaw Zach Duke came in for the seventh frame for the Brewers and allowed a one-out single to Blanco, but got a grounder and a strikeout to end the inning.
The Brewers got something going in the bottom of the seventh.
Davis drew a four-pitch walk to open the inning and almost walked home when Reynolds ripped a blast that just stayed outside the left field foul pole before striking out. Segura lined a single to right, moving Davis to second but then pinch hitter Martin Maldonado struck out.
Hamels came out for right handed fireballer Ken Giles, who induced Weeks to fly to deep center for the final out. The Phillies southpaw went 6 2/3, giving up seven hits, two runs (both earned), walking a pair and striking out seven.
Rob Wooten came on as the Brewers fourth pitcher of the evening to start the eighth and did his job, getting two strikeouts and a ground ball to retire the side, setting up the bottom of the eighth for Milwaukee.
The Brewers ran themselves out of a potential tying run for their third base running snafu of the contest.
Braun led off with a rocket to left center and limped into second. Logan Schafer came in to pinch run and the Crew was poised to tie the game, but Schafer inexplicably took off for third on Lucroy’s grounder to short and was an easy out. A strikeout and ground out snuffed out the threat just as quickly as it had started.
Wooten did his job in the top of the ninth, allowing an infield single to Tony Gwynn, Jr. An error on a pick-off throw moved Gwynn to second, but Wooten got pinch hitter Jimmy Rollins on a deep fly to center and then struck out Blanco looking.
Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon came out for the bottom of the ninth and retired the Brewers in order for his 20th save of the year.
The Phillies and Brewers meet Tuesday evening for the second game of a four game series. Kyle Kendrick (3-8, 4.12 ERA) will pitch for the Phillies and Wily Peralta (9-5, 3.35 ERA) will take the ball for Milwaukee.