The Philadelphia region prepared itself for the main event of Wednesday’s sporting schedule, a Little League game played out at Citizens Bank Park.
And not of the high-caliber kind that’s being played this week in Williamsport. More of the endless, error-filled brand of ball found at your local recreation league fields each weekend in the spring.
The fourth inning of a matinee between the Phillies and Seattle Mariners featured a wild pitch, a passed ball, two errors, Cole Hamels’ pitch count nearing 90 and one base runner caught between third and home when his teammate missed a bunt sign.
Perhaps because they’ve been accustomed to playing plenty of bad baseball games over the last two-plus years, the Phillies prevailed and collected their first series win in two weeks.
The Phils scored three times in the bottom of the fourth, erasing an early deficit, and then rode the young relief arms of Jake Diekman and Ken Giles en route to a 4-3 win over the Mariners on Wednesday.
After an error on the pitcher, a passed ball and an infield single set up the inning, Chase Utley poked a blooping single into shallow right field to give the Phillies their first lead in the fourth. That’s where the ugliness - and the scoring - ended for both teams.
Diekman took over for Hamels in the sixth. He struck out four of the eight batters he faced in two shutout innings.
Rookie righthander Ken Giles followed. He struck out three of the four he faced in the eighth, before passing the baton to Jonathan Papelbon for the save in the ninth.
The 23-year-old Giles, who has been in the big leagues for all of 10 weeks, has struck out 44 of the 108 batters (40.7 percent) he’s faced this season.
After Papelbon kept the bullpen’s momentum going in the ninth, Hamels’ seventh win of the season was secure. In going just five innings (on 99 pitches), Hamels had his shortest start since July 2.
He allowed nine hits - one shy of tying a season-high - and three runs. Hamels uncorked two wild pitches and served up a home run, too.
But the pitcher often victimized by hard luck on low run support was finally smiled upon by the baseball gods. The victory was his first in four starts, and just his sixth in 16 starts since the beginning of June.
Hamels has a 1.77 ERA in that 12-week span.