Hamels beats the heat with a breezy victory over Padres

Posted: July 23, 2011

TURNS OUT, Charlie Manuel's perch on the home-plate side of the home dugout has its perks, particularly on a night when the temperature at first pitch was 98 degrees.

"Where I was sitting, it was pretty nice," the Phillies manager said. "The draft comes right up there, and it's air-conditioned, and it hits your back. This is every man for himself."

His players didn't seem to mind the heat, either. Cole Hamels pitched eight strong innings, and the Phillies took advantage of several Padres miscues to win, 3-1, at Citizens Bank Park last night.

The victory, their third straight, improved the Phillies' major league-best record to 62-36, good enough for a four-game lead over the Braves in the NL East.

Hamels bounced back from a rough second-half debut in which he allowed seven runs in 4 1/3 innings against the Mets. He retired the first nine batters, seven of them via strikeout, before allowing a walk to Chris Denorfia and a single to Jason Bartlett to start the fourth inning. Hamels got out of that jam by getting Chase Headley to ground into a doubleplay, then getting Ryan Ludwick to ground out to end the frame. He allowed his only run in the fifth inning on a one-out groundout by Alberto Gonzalez that scored Cameron Maybin, who had singled and stolen second to start the inning.

The Padres' run snapped a string of 21 consecutive scoreless innings that Hamels had thrown against his hometown team, including back-to-back starts of eight scoreless innings.

The lefty, who improved to 12-5 to become the NL's second 12-game winner (Atlanta's Jair Jurrjens is the other) and lowered his ERA to 2.62, downplayed pitching in the heat.

"I think if you hydrate enough and mentally convince yourself that you have to go out there and make pitches, no matter what the circumstances are, then you can go ahead and do it," Hamels said. "If you don't have too many stressful innings, you can go deep into the ballgame, and that is what I was able to do."

With the Phillies leading, 3-1, and Hamels at 100 pitches, Manuel called on righthander Ryan Madson for his first save opportunity since June 12. Madson recorded two groundouts and a flyout to nail down his 16th save in 17 opportunities. The veteran righthander missed close to a month with a bruised hand from mid-June to mid-July before returning from the disabled list to make three appearances in non-save situations.

Before the game, pitching coach Rich Dubee said he eventually would reinstate Madson as his full-time closer, despite the success young lefty Antonio Bastardo has enjoyed in the role. Bastardo has converted all five of his save opportunities since Madson's injury, striking out 10 with two hits, one run and one walk in 8 1/3 innings.

"Charlie and I will continue to talk that over," Dubee said. "Eventually, Ryan is going back there on an regular basis."

He also had said before the game he would not hesitate to call on Madson for a save if the situation dictated. And with the Padres sending three righthanded hitters to the plate in the ninth, that is what happened.

The Phillies took a 1-0 lead in the second inning after Bartlett, the Padres shortstop, was unable to corral a sharp ground ball by Shane Victorino, who advanced all the way to second after the ball bounced into the outfield. Victorino then scored on a fly ball by Carlos Ruiz that went off the glove of Maybin in centerfield (the play was changed from an error to a double, although the run ended up being unearned anyway because of the Bartlett error).

The Phillies added two more runs in the fourth, one on balk by lefty starter Cory Luebke and the other on a double by rookie outfielder John Mayberry Jr.

Blanton update

Righthander Joe Blanton was examined by the team doctor, Michael Ciccotti, yesterday and is set to undergo more tests on his ailing elbow, likely early next week. The veteran righthander said the elbow flared up last weekend after a couple of innings of live batting practice in Clearwater, Fla. Blanton said that he is at a loss for what is happening inside his elbow (he already visited renowned surgeon Dr. James Andrew, who advised against an operation), and that his setback last weekend was "rock-bottom." Blanton has started only six games this season. *

For more Phillies coverage and opinion, read David Murphy's blog, High Cheese, at www.philly.com/HighCheese. Follow him on Twitter at @HighCheese.

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