Cole Hamels delivers a win for the Phillies over the Colorado Rockies

Posted: July 16, 2012

DENVER - The subject matter being studied under the microscope has changed over the years.

Seldom have the up-close inspections affected Cole Hamels' on-field performance.

Hamels zoomed through the farm system after the Phillies made him a first-round pick in 2002, proved he belonged in the big leagues as soon as he arrived, and was the best pitcher in the postseason when his team won the World Series in 2008.

The only double bogey of Hamels' career was the 2009 season, and even Tiger Woods fails to make the cut sometimes.

His work in the Phillies' 5-1 win over the Colorado Rockies on Sunday at Coors Field showed that the weight of his trade-deadline situation will not rattle Hamels, either.

"I think ever since you get drafted and you're that kind of top prospect and you have that profile put on you, you learn how to play with the attention and the positives and negatives that go with it," the 28-year-old Hamels said after surrendering the single run on six hits in eight innings. ". . . If I stay healthy and I'm able to pitch, I know I'll be able to do well and I'll be able to do it for a really long time. Everything else will fall into place."

Almost nothing, of course, has fallen into place for the Phillies this season, and that's the only reason there is any discussion about trading Hamels. The Phillies will listen, but they simultaneously are trying to negotiate a contract extension for the homegrown lefthander who is the youngest of all their aces.

There is no shortage of interest, and the Texas Rangers overtly expressed their own Sunday by sending high-profile scout Don Welke, a former Phillies employee, to watch Hamels pitch. If the Rangers wanted Hamels beforehand, they had to want him even more after watching him work in a ballpark that can be torture for pitchers.

Hamels allowed runners to reach base on a single and his own throwing error to start the bottom of the first inning, then retired the heart of the Rockies order - Carlos Gonzalez, Ramon Hernandez, and Michael Cuddyer - to prevent a run from scoring.

He didn't find himself in any trouble again until the sixth, and by that point, the Phillies had built a 5-0 lead behind a first-inning RBI from Carlos Ruiz, a nicely manufactured run in the fourth, and a three-run home run by Hunter Pence in the fifth off Rockies lefty Drew Pomeranz.

Pence had been hitless in his previous 13 at-bats, and plenty has been said and written about his inability to hit with runners in scoring position this season. But after falling behind, 0-2, he worked the count even before crushing a hanging Pomeranz curveball into the left-field seats for his first three-run homer of the season.

"I was just trying to battle," Pence said. "Ever since the break, I hadn't had a hit. I hit some balls hard right at people, but they had been getting the best of me."

Hamels got the best of the Rockies even in the sixth inning when they scored their only run. He issued a one-out walk to Marco Scutaro, and Gonzalez followed with an RBI triple.

"It's tough," Hamels said. "You get to the heart of their order and you have to make your pitches. It's something where you give up the triple with one out and those guys are almost destined to score. It's just more about making a good pitch. Pretty much I was conceding a run anyway just trying to get the groundout or get guys out, and I got a strikeout and then a groundout."

And the Rockies got nothing more than that run.

"Yeah, it's nice to only give up the one-spot, especially when you do have the lead and it's kind of later in the game," Hamels said. "You don't want them to have the momentum back. It was kind of getting tight with the pitch count and it was nice to get them out and kind of steal the momentum back."

The Phillies are trying to gather some momentum to prevent a mass flurry of deadline trades, and winning the final two games of the series was at least a step in the right direction.

"We've had trouble winning series," manager Charlie Manuel said. "This is big for us. Come back from the break and take a series. Hopefully, we can get to L.A. and win tomorrow. I don't know if you can call two games a winning streak or not, but we do. Three would look better. Three would be kind of official."

Something longer than that will be needed to save this season. Exactly what it will take financially to keep Hamels here remains a mystery. Manuel just hopes it happens, because he knows how special the lefthander can be. He proved it again Sunday by responding to trade and contract talks by delivering a gem.

"That's why he is good," Manuel said. "If you can't handle it - what the hell? That's what a professional is supposed to be."


Contact Bob Brookover at bbrookover@phillynews.com. Follow @brookob on Twitter.

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