Papelbon pitches 9th, saves Phillies’ win
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Jonathan Papelbon sealed a victory with a fist pump, a reaction that certainly didn’t offend the Phillies fans.
Papelbon made his first appearance in Philadelphia since he made a lewd gesture as he left the field, closing out the Phillies’ 5-4 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Friday night with a scoreless ninth inning.
“Yeah, I wanted to get back out there,” Papelbon said. “Just to get back on this field and compete, show everyone I come out to this field every day to compete. Everything else is kind of hindsight.”
The game was Papelbon’s first at home since he blew a save against the Marlins on Sept. 14 and lost his composure when he was booed coming off the field. He grabbed himself in response, and then bumped umpire Joe West.
Papelbon denied that he was insulting the fans but served a seven-game suspension.
The closer entered Friday to a chorus of boos that got louder when he was introduced by PA announcer Dan Baker.
“I didn’t hear nothing,” he said. “I don’t hear nothing out there when I’m pitching.”
But the fans gave him a standing ovation when he got Joey Terdoslavich out on a grounder to end it for his 39th save in 43 chances, prompting Papelbon to pump his right fist before embracing catcher Carlos Ruiz.
Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said he was “a little curious” about the fan reaction but didn’t think it would affect his closer.
“He’s a professional about going about his business and being ready to close for us,” Sandberg said. “He had pretty good stuff tonight.”
Papelbon again said he wasn’t trying to insult the fans on Sept. 14, but added that “fans have the right to boo and cheer.” He’d like to be defined by his on-field performance.
“I’ve always hoped the perception of me is I’m a hard worker, I’m a team player and I come to win every night,” he said. “To me, everything else falls on the back burner.”
Marlon Byrd drove in the go-ahead run with a seventh-inning groundout.
Luis Garcia (1-0) pitched a scoreless seventh to earn the win.
Chris Johnson homered for Atlanta, which dropped its ninth in 11 games while falling to 5-18 this month.
Philadelphia took the lead in the seventh off Jordan Walden (0-2). Ruiz led off with a walk and went to third on Ryan Howard’s one-out double before scoring on Byrd’s groundout to second.
Howard snapped an 0-for-15 skid with the hit.
Ervin Santana allowed four runs on eight hits in 5 2/3 innings, ending the season with a 14-10 record.
Jerome Williams gave up four runs on eight hits in six innings. The veteran right-hander finished 4-2 with a 2.83 ERA in nine starts for Philadelphia since claiming him off waivers on Aug. 10.
Braves: Johnson returned to the lineup after missing Thursday’s game with a lower back strain. He put his hands on knees, seemingly in discomfort, after fielding a ball in the first inning. But he showed no ill effects on his fourth-inning homer.
Phillies: SS Jimmy Rollins missed his 17th straight game due to a strained left hamstring.
Braves: Aaron Harang (11-12) makes his final start of the season and likely will surpass 200 innings when the teams play the second of the three-game series.
Phillies: A.J. Burnett (8-17) will try to salvage a forgettable season. The right-hander leads the league in walks (93) and earned runs (105).
Atlanta’s Justin Upton reached 100 RBIs for the first time in his career with a first-inning single. His previous best of 88 RBIs came in 2011 with Arizona.
The Phillies fired assistant general manager and amateur scouting director Marti Wolever, general manager Ruben Amaro announced on Friday. Wolever had been the club’s scouting director since 2002.