Hamels Nat to be denied

YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Cole Hamels looks like old self in a tough win against Washington.
YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Cole Hamels looks like old self in a tough win against Washington.
Posted: July 11, 2013

T HE MANAGER said he didn't want to say much to the pitcher during the mid-inning meeting, and the pitcher relayed the chat with a chance to throw in a well-timed joke.

"He said he wanted to give me a mental breather," Cole Hamels said, lying but also having fun with the coaching staff's decision to give him a week's worth of rest earlier this month.

Whatever was said didn't really matter anyway. Charlie Manuel was going to leave Hamels in a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the eighth inning regardless.

It was on Hamels to make the most of the situation. Since he was able to joke about it afterward, all went well for both the manager and the pitcher.

Hamels struck out Ryan Zimmerman on three pitches immediately after Manuel's mound visit and then escaped the inning unscathed by getting Jayson Werth to fly out to deep center.

Picking up from a stellar start in Pittsburgh against the first-place Pirates, Hamels looked like his old self in a tough, 4-2 win over Washington last night at Citizens Bank Park.

"He threw a heck of a game - outstanding," Manuel said. "I liked everything about it."

With the Phillies gaining some momentum for one of the few times this season, they turned to Hamels to secure their second straight win over the reigning National League East champions.

On an impossibly humid night, Hamels sidestepped an early solo home run from Werth to lead the Phillies to their sixth win in their last eight games. Hamels, who entered the night with a major league-leading 11 losses, held the Nationals to one run on six hits in eight innings.

Hamels has won back-to-back starts for the first time this season. It's the first time since April that he's gone at least seven innings in back-to-back starts.

He allowed one earned run in each of his last two games. And after the Phillies went 2-14 in Hamels' first 16 starts, they've now won three straight times he's taken the mound.

The Phils will send recently named All-Star Cliff Lee to the mound tonight with the chance to win their third straight series, and all over quality teams in Pittsburgh, Atlanta and Washington.

"We [just have to] win in general," Michael Young said. "If we finish with a good record against the two teams ahead of us, they are still the two teams ahead of us. What we are trying to do is just focus in on the game that night . . . I think we're doing a better job of bearing down on the task at hand."

Young and Ben Revere helped supply Hamels with offensive ammunition against the Nats.

Revere went 2-for-4 to raise his season average to .302. He's hitting .452 (14-for-31) in his current seven-game hitting streak and is batting .346 since taking a .200 batting average into May.

Revere's second single off Nationals starter Taylor Jordan led off the sixth, sparking a game-changing, three-run inning. Revere would eventually score the go-ahead run on an error by Washington first baseman Adam LaRoche.

Later in the sixth, Young provided the kill shot by drilling a two-run double to right-center.

"I was trying to stay in the big part of the field and get a ball in the big part of the zone," said Young, who went 1-for-2 with a walk and two RBI. "He was throwing the ball and keeping it down. He had some life on his fastball and I wanted to bear down on his fastball."

Young is hitting .331 with 13 extra-base hits in 33 games since the beginning of June. His double last night handed Hamels a 4-1 lead.

Hamels first skated out of trouble in the seventh, when LaRoche and Anthony Rendon hit back-to-back singles before Kurt Suzuki flew out to center to end the inning. Hamels had 90 pitches heading into the eighth, and thus, at least a chance to finish the game.

Instead, he faced his stiffest test.

New Nat Scott Hairston hit an infield single to the hole at shortstop. Ian Desmond followed with a single and Bryce Harper kept the rally going with a walk.

Washington was one, big Zimmerman swing away from taking the lead. So Manuel came out to check in with Hamels.

" 'I'm not out here to take you out, I came out here to look at you,' " Manuel said he told Hamels. "He kind of grinned. I said, 'You got him?' He said, 'I got him.' "

The lively crowd at Citizens Bank Park went wild when Hamels sent Zimmerman down on three pitches. They then turned their attention to the battle between the former World Series MVP and his old teammate, Werth, who took the money and ran south to Washington.

"He and I were playing the guessing game the whole game," Hamels said. "It's a serious guessing game and a serious chess match we have between us. He's a great hitter, so you have to make good pitches to him, and even if you do sometimes he's going to get good hits."

Werth battled back from an 0-2 count to work it full before launching a ball to deep right-center. Revere ran it down and the ballpark erupted.

"Close," Manuel said, "but no cigar."

"That was the most exciting eighth inning I've had in a long time, especially with it not being a sellout," Hamels said. "It felt like there were 60,000 fans, so that was awesome to see that from the fans on every pitch. Definitely brought the energy level back."

And if Hamels can continue his own climb back to being an All-Star-caliber pitcher to go alongside Lee?

"I'll get my regular sleep," Manuel chuckled.

DN Members Only : Phillies veterans know what it takes.


On Twitter: @ryanlawrence21

Blog: ph.ly/HighCheese

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