Hamels, Phils mugged in Cleveland

Posted: June 18, 2007

CLEVELAND - Cole Hamels has elevated expectations like no Phillies pitcher since Curt Schilling.

He entered tonight's series opener against the Cleveland Indians at Jacobs Field leading the National League in wins and strikeouts. He could be headed to his first All-Star Game. He could be the franchise's first 20-game winner since Steve Carlton in 1983.

But despite so much success so early . . .

"He's human," Shane Victorino said.

Hamels allowed eight hits and six runs in five innings on the way to a 10-1 loss to the Indians.

"It ticks me off," Hamels said. "I think it ticks anybody off. The main thing is trying to put your team in a spot to win, and when you give up five runs in the first two innings, you're not doing yourself a good cause and you're not doing your team a good cause. It's frustrating, but you can't let the game affect the next one."

Hamels dropped to 9-3 with a 3.82 ERA.

His night started poorly immediately. Indians centerfielder Grady Sizemore bunted the first pitch past Hamels to second baseman Chase Utley for a single. Hamels threw three times to first base before Sizemore stole second. Josh Barfield then hit a 2-0 pitch for a single to left to put runners at the corners. Sizemore scored on a fielder's choice and then Jhonny Peralta hit a double to make it 2-0.

"It's definitely something I didn't expect," Hamels said of Sizemore's bunt. "Normally with the leadoff hitter, you expect him to see a couple pitches, but that's the way he plays the game. Then when you have to throw over to first base a couple times and then throw to the hitter . . . I was completely off rhythm. It's tough to try to go back and attack the hitter when you're playing footsie with the guy on first base."

Hamels also allowed a three-run homer to Kelly Shoppach in the second to make it 5-0.

It was Hamels' worst start of the season and his worst start since Aug. 24 last year against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field, where he allowed nine runs (five earned) in two innings.

Hamels pitched with a cut on his index finger that afternoon. He had no such affliction before this game. He said he just got hit.

"They jumped us coming out of the gate," manager Charlie Manuel said. "We came out flat. They beat us to the punch."

Hamels vs. Indians lefthander Cliff Lee seemed like a mismatch that favored the Phillies. Lee entered with a 6.04 ERA, which would have been the fourth-worst ERA in the American League if he had enough innings to qualify. But Lee (4-4) allowed five hits, one run and no walks in seven innings. He struck out five.

The Phillies had runners on first and third with one out in the first inning, but Ryan Howard and Aaron Rowand each struck out swinging to end the threat. Lee retired 11 consecutive batters at one point before Jayson Werth hit a leadoff single to center in the fifth. Lee then hit Wes Helms and Jimmy Rollins with pitches to load the bases with two outs.

Victorino battled Lee in a nine-pitch at-bat, fouling off five consecutive pitches before he lined out to first baseman Victor Martinez.

Victorino spiked his helmet to the ground in disgust.

"You saw my helmet?" said Victorino when asked about the at-bat. "That's the answer."

Howard hit a solo homer to right field in the sixth to make it 6-1.

Hamels left after 77 pitches. Manuel said that with the way his team looked on the field - flat - it made sense to save Hamels, who has thrown 1032/3 innings in 15 starts.

Not surprisingly, Hamels said he preferred to continue.

"Maybe I can find something," he said. "It's all about learning. When games are going bad, you are going to learn a little bit more because you have to dig deeper."

Contact staff writer Todd Zolecki at 215-854-4874 or tzolecki@phillynews.com.

Read his blog at http://go.philly.com/zozone.

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