Gomez blows fourth save with late homer

Usually reliable, first-year closer allows game-tying two-run shot in 9th

Gomez blows fourth save with late homer

PHILADELPHIA -- Jeanmar Gomez has been one of the Phillies' best stories this season.

He entered the year as a middle reliever and only out of desperation became the team's closer in early April. He took to the job surprisingly well and entered Friday night's 4-3 loss in 11 innings to the Cardinals at Citizens Bank Park having saved 32 games in 35 opportunities.

But Gomez blew his fourth save in the ninth inning when Cardinals shortstop Jedd Gyorko hit a game-tying, two-run home run to left field. Gyorko fouled off three consecutive pitches before hitting the eighth pitch from Gomez -- an 86-mph splitter -- out of the park.

Gomez left the clubhouse immediately after the game, which has happened before following blown saves, so he could not discuss Gyorko's at-bat.

"He hung a split to Gyorko," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "It was center cut. He's been so good for us this whole year. He's been very good for us. I can't fault him."

Gomez certainly has been solid this season, but his long-term future as the Phillies' closer will be interesting to watch. One reason the Phillies received little to no interest in him before the Aug. 1 Trade Deadline -- despite numerous teams needing bullpen help -- is that he does not miss enough bats.

Teams love power arms in the bullpen, but Gomez entered the game getting swings and misses on only 6.8 percent of his pitches, which ranked 215th out of 228 pitchers who have thrown 50 or more innings this season, according to FanGraphs. His 5.98 strikeouts-per-nine innings average ranked 207th.

That argument has many people thinking setup man Hector Neris could be the Phillies' closer at some point. Neris gets swings and misses on 15.6 percent of his pitches, which ranked seventh in baseball. He averages 11.26 strikeouts per nine innings, which ranked 14th.

Neris struck out Tommy Pham on three pitches to start the eighth. Stephen Piscotty grounded out on the first pitch for the second out, and Matt Carpenter flied out on the first pitch for the third out to end the inning.

Five pitches, three outs.

Impressive.

"Neris threw a heck of a good inning," Mackanin said.

They needed another one in the ninth.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.