Bullpen falters as Padres fall to Phils
Geer's strong start is wasted as Philly rallies
PHILADELPHIA -- The directive was handed down before the game from manager Bud Black: Heath Bell, who leads the Major Leagues in saves, wasn't going to take his jacket off on Sunday, wasn't going to warm up in the bullpen and certainly was not going to pitch.
Bell, coming off a three-day run that saw him save three games, using 67 pitches in the process, was going to get a day off and if the situation called for a save, Edwin Moreno, 13 games into his rookie season, would get the call.
That suited Bell perfectly fine, to an extent.
"I wanted to pitch," Bell said. "But you've got to be smart about it."
So instead of having the Major League saves leader trying to protect a ninth-inning lead on Sunday, it was Moreno trying to preserve a victory for the surprising Padres. Raul Ibanez spoiled the fun with his two-run home run to lead the Phillies to a 5-4 victory before a sold-out crowd of 45,266 at Citizens Bank Park.
The victory spoiled what was another well-played game for the Padres (9-4), who got seven strong innings out of rookie pitcher Josh Geer, who spent his Saturday flying from Portland, Ore., to Philadelphia to make a start for the injured Walter Silva.
That start was to be against the defending World Series champion Phillies (5-6), who boast one of baseball's most feared lineups and play in a ballpark that is about as unfriendly to pitchers as you will find.
A daunting task? Yes, Geer said -- if you don't have a plan.
"You see these hitters -- they're big league hitters, but you have to pitch your own game," said Geer, who allowed one earned run on six hits with no walks and four strikeouts in seven innings. "You don't try and nibble, you try to throw strike one. I got ahead a lot early in the count. The key is getting ahead."
Geer kept the Phillies scoreless through five innings and then got the first out of the sixth inning before Eric Bruntlett hit a grounder to shortstop Luis Rodriguez, who had just entered the game after Everth Cabrera left with an injured left hand.
San Diego manager Bud Black said Cabrera injured his left hand near the hamate bone when fouling a ball off in the sixth inning. He will undergo further tests on Monday.
Rodriguez grabbed the grounder just fine, but fired it over the head of Adrian Gonzalez at first base. Chase Utley then followed with a towering home run to cut the Padres' lead to 4-2, one of four homers hit to right field on Sunday.
"I hung a couple of pitches," Geer said. "Some of them stayed in; some of them didn't."
Geer went out and worked a quick seventh inning to get the ball to Edward Mujica, who allowed a pinch-hit home run to Jimmy Rollins -- to, yes, right field -- that cut the Padres' lead to 4-3 as the game headed to the ninth inning.
In the bottom of the ninth, with Bell standing and watching from the bullpen, the right-handed Moreno allowed a bloop single to shallow center field to Ryan Howard and then left a 2-0 changeup over the plate that Ibanez hammered over the fence in right to win the game.
"You could feel the wind blowing out that way," Headley said. "If you hit the ball to right today, it was going out."
Never once, especially late in the game, did Black consider changing his thoughts about using Bell -- or even Duaner Sanchez or Cla Meredith, all of whom were shut down for the day. Even before the game, Black stated that Moreno, who hadn't allowed a run this season entering Sunday's game, would likely close.
"Three [games] in a row -- you can't do that to our guys, our pitchers," Black said. "When a guy is down, he's down. We had three today. [Bell] needed a break."
The Padres jumped on Phillies pitcher Chan Ho Park early, plating three runs during a third-inning outburst that included a single by Cabrera, a sacrifice bunt by Geer, an RBI single by Jody Gerut and an Edgar Gonzalez RBI triple.
Brian Giles knocked in the third run with a groundout.
Adrian Gonzalez later added his fifth home run of the season and fourth in six games during this nine-game road trip, putting the Padres up, 4-0.
Meanwhile, Geer, who was 1-1 with a 3.60 ERA with Portland, continued to cruise. He mixed his pitches well, relying on his changeup in a pinch. Howard tripled with one out in the fourth inning, but was left stranded at third as Ibanez hit a comebacker to Geer, who then struck out Matt Stairs looking to end the inning.
Geer looked much like he did last September when he impressed the Padres by compiling a 2-1 record and 2.67 ERA in five starts. He didn't look like the pitcher whose velocity was down and ERA (10.43) up in Spring Training.
"Josh pitched outstanding," Black said. "He came across the country and threw seven innings of outstanding baseball. He changed speeds and moved the fastball. One earned run against this lineup is pretty impressive."
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.