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Hamels, Phils beat Braves

Hamels, Phils beat Braves
It's debatable which was more uplifting for the Phillies last night at Citizens Bank Park - Cole Hamels running hell-bent down the first-base line without slipping on a banana peel; or the Atlanta Braves flailing at his clever mixture of fastballs and change-ups.

Regardless, Hamels' performance restored some order and, perhaps, confidence to the Phillies' battered pitching rotation in a breezy 10-6 win over the Braves.

Pitching for the first time since he sprained his left ankle fielding a grounder April 28, Hamels gave the Phillies what they sorely needed - a quality start for his first win of the season. And one that was free of injury.

Maybe whoever had been pushing pins into Cole Hamels voodoo dolls decided the ace lefthander had endured enough lousy luck. Hamels had three setbacks that cost him time and a certain amount of angst before last night. He developed a sore elbow in spring training, was hit by a line drive off his left shoulder April 23, and suffered the sprained ankle five days later.

"It was just one of those things where he had two freak accidents happen," said Shane Victorino, whose career-best 16-game hitting streak ended on a night when Jayson Werth, Chris Coste and Chase Utley hit home runs. "I'm sure there were times when he thought, hey, running to first base, in the back of his mind, watch the ankle. He did a great job. He had both pitches working. He was the Cole that everybody knows."

Victorino was alluding to the crazy second inning, when the Phils scored four runs on one hit, thanks to a pair of Braves errors. Hamels was a central figure in the oddball rally. With the bases loaded on two walks and an error, he dribbled a grounder toward first and broke into an all-out sprint before Braves starter Jo-Jo Reyes threw the ball into right field, allowing the first two runs of the game to score. Jimmy Rollins followed with the only hit of the inning, a two-run double that made it 4-0.

Atlanta manager Bobby Cox argued that Hamels had interfered with the throw. The Phillies were just happy Hamels had survived the sprint without aggravating his ankle injury.

"He looked pretty good, considering the amount of time it took to get him back on the mound," manager Charlie Manuel said.

Hamels' start against Atlanta was more highly anticipated than his previous four starts because of the unsightly state of the rotation. When Hamels took the mound, the starters had only six of the Phillies' 14 wins, and their combined earned run average was a dreadful 6.60 - highest in the majors and far ahead of Cleveland, the next worst at 5.78.

Hamels plowed through the first 11 Braves batters before he was touched for two runs. He was pulled after six innings. The lefthander had thrown 95 pitches - 64 for strikes - and allowed three hits while striking out seven.

Manuel thought of pulling Hamels after he walked two batters in the sixth, but he said Hamels would have none of it.

"I just wanted to see where he was at," Manuel said. "He said he thought he lost his focus but that he was still strong. That was good for him. He didn't run into any freak accident or bad luck, so that's good."

While Hamels appeared on the way back toward assuming his role as the team's ace, closer Brad Lidge had a rough night, serving up a three-run homer to Casey Kotchman in the ninth. Lidge's ERA has ballooned to 8.49. He has given up five home runs.

Manuel said Lidge, who has adjusted his mechanics to accommodate an achy right knee, simply needs to pitch more.

"Lidge needs some more work," Manuel said. "He needs better command. I think tonight was good for him. He threw [25] pitches. He said his knee is fine."

Contact staff writer Ray Parrillo at 215-854-2743 or

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: May 9, 2009

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