PITTSBURGH - For just the 16th time in the last two seasons, Charlie Manuel could sit at his desk and fill out a Phillies lineup card with eight players he called regulars. This, of course, prompted the manager to knock on a wooden bench in the visitors dugout at PNC Park before a 2-1 loss to the Pirates. It took 57 games, but he finally had his team.
"It might take them a little while to get going," Manuel said. "But we're going to score more runs I feel like."
Cole Hamels is still waiting for those runs.
Twelve innings of baseball resulted in one run on six Phillies hits. A team with an inept offense could last only so long. The game ended in the 12th with Danys Baez on the mound. A walk-off single by Jose Tabata scooted through the hole, past Chase Utley's glove, to score Xavier Paul from second.
Hamels allowed one hit in eight innings and was rewarded for his effort with a no decision. On the night the Phillies reunited their lineup, the offense did nothing to support a stellar pitching performance.
Manuel slotted Shane Victorino, starting a game for the first time in 20 days, fifth to separate his cadre of lefties in the middle of the lineup. He could return catcher Carlos Ruiz to his customary eighth spot. Above him, Manuel started rookie Domonic Brown and batted him seventh, his unofficial indoctrination into the everyday batting order.
It's the lineup Manuel said he thought he would carry north from Clearwater. But that was the beginning of spring training - before Chase Utley's general soreness morphed into a chronic knee injury, before Brown's broken hand, Ruiz's concussion, Victorino's stiff hamstring . . . and whatever else may befall this team.
None of that mattered Friday because Hamels had more hits (two) than every other regular except for Rollins (who also had two).
Hamels allowed fewer hits than he had. It was just the second time in Hamels' career he pitched eight innings while allowing one hit. The lefty did not have his best stuff; he walked three batters, his most in a start since April 22. Fifty-eight of his 98 pitches were strikes, not as pristine a ratio as Hamels has established for himself.
In the first five innings, Hamels threw 58 pitches. But his first four pitches of the sixth were balls to the Pirates' No. 8 hitter, Ronny Cedeno, and that would haunt him later. Pitcher Jeff Karstens sacrificed Cedeno to second, and then Hamels uncorked a wild pitch to advance him to third.
A deep sacrifice fly that pushed Victorino to the very last pebbles of dirt on the warning track in center scored the tying run. Even with the bases empty, Hamels momentarily unglued again. Josh Harrison reached on a Carlos Ruiz error, and second-base umpire Angel Hernandez subsequently called a balk on Hamels. The lefthander walked off the mound, barking at the umpire. That was a sign for pitching coach Rich Dubee to emerge for a chat. One pitch later, Hamels survived the inning.
His offense provided no favors. The Phillies did not score until the sixth and were saved by Jimmy Rollins' aggressive base running. Hamels led off the inning with a single and Rollins did the same. But Placido Polanco hit a hard liner right at third baseman Josh Harrison. He doubled Hamels off second, and a promising rally was derailed.
But Rollins stole second - his second steal of the game - and Utley fouled off three pitches before stroking the eighth he saw from Karstens into right field to score Rollins.