Ken Giles delivers in big spot in Phillies' 9-6 loss to Giants
Adversity manifested Tuesday night for Ken Giles when his glove dulled a chopper into a slow roller, one that dribbled toward Chase Utley at second base. It hopped the lip of the outfield grass, skipped past Utley, and permitted a Giants run to score.
Giles, the 23-year-old Phillies rookie reliever, confronted the heart of the San Francisco lineup in the seventh inning of a tight game at Citizens Bank Park. These final 63 games are for discovering how players like Giles, integral for the future, respond to tests.
He survived a 33-pitch inning in a 9-6 Phillies 14-inning loss. One run - the first allowed by Giles since his major-league debut June 12 - scored, but the lead remained intact. That is, until Jonathan Papelbon surrendered his first home run in his 40th appearance of the season.
The game was lost after midnight when San Francisco battered Jeff Manship for four runs in the 14th. It took 5 hours, 46 minutes and 507 pitches to complete. Hundreds stayed until the conclusion. "Let's go Giants!" chants engulfed the empty stadium when Brandon Crawford lashed a bases-clearing double.
Tim Lincecum, who threw 114 pitches Sunday, saved the game for San Francisco.
Papelbon's mistake happened at an inopportune time, although one fat fastball will not diminish his trade value. Buster Posey crushed a first-pitch Papelbon fastball to deep left. It ended an 11-inning scoreless streak for Papelbon. He has a 1.34 ERA with three blown saves in 26 chances.
"First-ball swinging," manager Ryne Sandberg said. "Pitch came back to the plate. But he's been on a good roll."
The Phillies, in a curious decision, asked Papelbon to continue into the 10th inning. He pitched more than an inning for the first time since May 11, 2013 and completed two full innings for the first time since July 21, 2012 - perhaps to further showcase his talents. The 10th was spotless.
Giles ascended to his current setup role with less than a month of big-league service time. He could earn a more prominent role, such as closer, should Papelbon be dealt before next week's trade deadline. First, the Phillies want to see how Giles, who oozes confidence, handles misfortune.
Ehire Adrianza smashed a one-out double to right in the seventh. Posey cracked the grounder that pinballed. The tying run stood on first base, and Giles was charged with his first run in 142/3 innings.
Giles fought Pablo Sandoval for 10 pitches only for the plump Giants third baseman to slash a 97-m.p.h. fastball to the opposite field for a bloop single. That advanced Posey to second. Pitching coach Bob McClure emerged from the dugout to calm Giles.
Michael Morse whiffed at a 97-m.p.h. fastball, the seventh pitch Giles threw him, for the second out. He started Gregor Blanco with a first-pitch strike and later buried a slider for a swinging third strike. Giles' ERA is 1.13. He has not walked a batter in eight July outings.
"He hung in there," Sandberg said. "He didn't have his good command as far as throwing strikes and getting ahead. But he did hang in there."
The Phillies scored three in the fifth inning once they obtained the elusive extra-base hit. Jimmy Rollins' two-run homer snapped a streak of 18 consecutive singles since Monday night. Ryan Howard followed with a single, and a Marlon Byrd double plated him.
Rollins rediscovered his power stroke this month. He has five homers in his last 10 games, and his slugging percentage is up to .396. (That is 19 points higher than Howard's clip.) The shortstop is just 10 plate appearances from triggering an $11 million vesting option for 2015.