SAN DIEGO - Presented with the following scenario at the beginning of the season, you'd be hard-pressed to pick the more unbelievable aspect: that the Phillies, in a late-season, must-win series against the lowly Padres, would manage to score just six runs in three games. Or that this supposedly power-packed but pitching-poor team would end up winning two of them.
Either way, that's what they were left with last night as San Diego native Cole Hamels recorded his first victory since July 3 and Pat Burrell hit a crucial home run to lead the Phillies past the Padres, 2-1.
It might not have been the highly sought-after antidote to the team's recent offensive woes, but for at least 1 day it served its purpose - namely, avoiding falling even farther behind the Mets in the National League East.
"That's good, especially since we scored six runs," manager Charlie Manuel said. "We battled. It was a standoff."
Early on, it looked as if they might have drawn some inspiration from the Mets' 4-0 victory over the Pirates earlier in the day, which had the Phillies facing the prospect of falling three games out of the division lead.
Jimmy Rollins led off the first inning with an infield single, stole second and advanced to third on the errant throw, all with no out. Jayson Werth drove him in with a sacrifice fly.
But the offense, which entered the game hitting .190 on the road trip, managed just three more hits off San Diego righthander Cha Seung Baek and went 0-for-10 with men on base in the game's final eight innings.
The one highlight came when Burrell gave the Phillies a 2-0 lead in the sixth inning with his 29th home run, driving a 2-1 pitch over the wall in leftfield. The blast, which was important at the time, became critical in the bottom half of the frame when Chase Headley's two-out single scored Kevin Kouzmanoff from second for the Padres' only run.
Burrell, who entered the game with just three hits in his last 33 at-bats, finished 2-for-3. It was his first multiple-hit game since July 29 against Washington, a 17-game stretch in which he was hitting .157.
Despite his diminished numbers, Burrell is the biggest reason the Phillies managed to leave their seven-game California road trip with two victories. On Friday, his solo home run in the seventh inning lifted them to a 1-0 victory.
Thanks to another strong pitching performance, capped by Brad Lidge's 30th save in as many opportunities, his most recent blast proved to be the difference.
Hamels allowed three of his seven hits in the sixth inning, but was otherwise impressive. He struck out three, walked none and finished the eighth for the seventh time this season. The only other inning in which the Padres put runners in scoring position was the seventh, when Chase Utley, Rollins and Ryan Howard combined to turn an inning-ending doubleplay with runners on first and second.
The start resulted in a rare win for Hamels (10-8) - he was 0-3 in his previous seven starts despite a 3.60 ERA - on a night when the Phillies again failed to provide him with much run support. In his past four starts, the Phillies have scored a total of eight runs.
"We finally got him a little bit of run support," Werth said. "Enough, I guess. I wouldn't say all that much run support by any means. But it was good for him to get a win."
Hamels, who was a star at San Diego's Rancho Bernardo High School, left the game before the ninth after 97 pitches.
"It's something that every one of us on the starting staff tries to do," said Hamels, who lowered his ERA to 3.22. "Put up good innings and quality starts and hope for the best. I've been able to do that, but unfortunately it hasn't been able to go my way and I think that's just baseball. You can't go out there expecting to get a win every time."
Lidge then entered the game and struck out three of the four batters he faced.