ATLANTA -- The last thing you expected to see in the Phillies' clubhouse this dark and disappointing season was a bunch of empty champagne bottles.
Empty hopes of contending for a spot in the postseason? Yes.
But empty champagne bottles, the residue of a celebration? Definitely not.
The celebration was not big. It was more like a toast. Six bottles of champagne and glasses raised high after four Phillies pitches combined to throw a no-hitter in a 7-0 win over the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field Monday afternoon (see Instant Replay).
“This is something I’ll remember for a long time,” said Cole Hamels, who carried the baton for six no-hit innings before Jake Diekman, Ken Giles and Jonathan Papelbon finished it off.
“I’m happy the outcome came out the way it did because it was a complete team effort. This really took four outstanding pitchers, a good game called by Chooch (Carlos Ruiz) and some big plays in the outfield with Marlon (Byrd).
“It was a full team effort and I think we all can really enjoy that and what it means for the organization.”
After the game, Hamels said the four pitchers would give the game ball to team president David Montgomery, who last week took a medical leave of absence as he undergoes treatment for cancer.
“We’re going to dedicate it to David,” Hamels said. “He's been a paramount person in the Phillies' organization. I think it’s really nice to be able to give it to him because of the struggles of the organization and what David and his family has gone through. Hopefully this will be something special to sum up what he means to all of us.”
There were just two close calls for hits in the game. Rightfielder Byrd, as Hamels alluded to, made a nice diving catch on a sinking liner by Chris Johnson to end the third inning. The catch came with two runners in scoring position and saved two runs.
In the ninth inning, Johnson hit a squibber by the mound, but shortstop Jimmy Rollins was able to make the play on what had the look of a potential infield hit.
The no-hitter was the 11th by the Phillies in regular-season play, 12th overall, and first since Roy Halladay’s in the 2010 National League Division Series against Cincinnati. It was the Phillies’ first combined no-hitter in their 132-year history and it came in their 20,105th game.
Speaking of rare events, Ben Revere drove in five runs, a career-high. That was one more run than the singles-hitting centerfielder had driven home in his previous 44 games. Revere’s bases-loaded triple with two outs in the seventh was the game’s big hit.
Hamels had good enough stuff to strike out seven in six innings of no-hit ball, but his control was poor. He walked five, including the first two batters of the game, and hit another. He pitched out of tough jams in the first and third innings. Those jams and his lack of command caused his pitch count to swell to 108 after six innings. All of this made it a rather easy decision for manager Ryne Sandberg to turn the no-hitter over to the bullpen.
“He was pretty well spent,” Sandberg said. “He had some stressful innings. He wasn’t going to go nine innings anyway.”
Hamels was upset when Sandberg pulled him from his last start, but not this time. He understood the decision.
“I was battling control issues,” Hamels said. “I wasn’t able to get ahead of guys. I understood around the sixth inning that it was going to be a short game.
“Understanding the situation and what was going on, I wasn’t really too worried about (the no-hitter). We’re really just trying to win the game. And I have the utmost respect and faith in the bullpen because they’ve been outstanding all year. Especially (Diekman, Giles and Papelbon). They’ve been some of the best, so it’s nice to be able to see what we’re able to do together. It was fun to be able to watch them and create something very special.”
Diekman said he did not know there was a no-hitter in progress in until he jogged in from the bullpen and looked at the scoreboard to see which hitters were coming up. He struck out two batters in the seventh.
Giles struck out the side in the eighth and Papelbon finished it off. The final out came on a soft line drive to first by rookie Phil Gosselin, who played his high school ball at Malvern Prep. Darin Ruf, who finished the game at first, snared the liner and Phillies players streamed out to the dugout to celebrate what was a nice respite from the drudgery of a long and disappointing season.