By Matt Gelb The Philadelphia Inquirer
ATLANTA — A kid from West Chester lined Jonathan Papelbon’s slider to first base. Darin Ruf snared it, Papelbon pumped his fist a few times, and four Phillies pitchers could bask in a strange moment. The Phillies celebrated the first combined no-hitter in their 132 years of existence with a group hug on the Turner Field mound.
They won, 7-0, when Braves infielder Phil Gosselin recorded the 27th out at 4:22 p.m. It was the 12th no-hitter in franchise history and the first since Roy Halladay’s two no-hit games in 2010.
Cole Hamels, Jake Diekman, Ken Giles and Papelbon accomplished the feat. Hamels, who showed uncharacteristic erraticness, lasted 108 pitches and six innings. The three reliable relievers finished it.
A franchise with an illustrious Father’s Day perfect game added this unusual Labor Day no-no. The majors’ last combined no-hitter was June 8, 2012, when six Seattle pitchers did it.
This never felt like a no-hitter. Hamels walked the first two Braves he faced. But Atlanta stranded runners on second and third in both the first and third innings. Five Braves reached — on four walks and one hit batter by Hamels — in the game’s first three innings. Hamels needed 60 pitches for those first nine outs.
He threw 14 pitches in the fourth, 18 in the fifth and 16 in the sixth. His last pitch was an 85-mph change-up that Phil Gosselin popped into Chase Utley’s glove. The closest Atlanta came to a hit against Hamels was in the third, when Chris Johnson lashed a sinking liner to right that Marlon Byrd snared with a belly flop.
Once the anticlimactic sixth concluded, Hamels trudged to the dugout, where the decision was soon made. His teammates congratulated him with handshakes. The last Phillies pitcher to be removed after six no-hit innings was David West in 1994. It was the just the third time it happened in 100 years.
The temperature at first pitch was 88 degrees, and many of the 34,178 fans in attendance fanned themselves with paper or cardboard attached to a stick. The conditions for a pitcher without his standard pinpoint control were not ideal.
Hamels is the team’s highest-paid player, a potential cornerstone for the future or valuable trade chip this winter. To risk his left arm for the reward of a no-hitter in a meaningless September game for a last-place team was not worth it.
Ben Revere supported Hamels with a career-high five RBIs. (He now has 20 for the season.) He cleared the bases in the seventh with a triple.
Hamels has a 2.50 ERA in 25 starts; only Clayton Kershaw (1.73) and Johnny Cueto (2.26) have better marks among National League starters. Biceps tendinitis derailed the start of Hamels’ season, but the 30-year-old lefthander has been nothing short of spectacular since.
And on this sweltering holiday, he was unhittable.